Pacific Business Trust in hot water after years of repeated problems

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The Pacific Business Trust is on notice to change or face closure following years of serious problems.

1 News has obtained documents under the Official Information Act which show on-going issues at taxpayers' expense.

The Trust depends on funding from the Ministry of Pacific Peoples - more than $10m in the last eight years - to help develop Pasifika businesses.

The Trust has been put on notice to perform better, 1 News Pacific Correspondent Barbara Dreaver reports.
Source: Breakfast

Internal reports reveal non-achievement and weaknesses in several areas including the lack of a database which is meant to measure the hundreds of new businesses the Trust has supposedly helped.

The charitable organisation has assisted in the start-up over 300 businesses since 2011, but there is no information about those businesses, whether they have succeeded or how they have survived.

Despite numerous reports over the years with recommendations on how to fix big weaknesses in the Trust, including closing it down, nothing changed and the Ministry of Pacific Peoples kept funding it.

'Tsunami of young people'

Fa'amatuainu Tino Pereira, who was appointed chairman of the Pacific Business Trust board in September last year, admits there were serious problems and the lack of data was one of them.

However, he says the Trust is now changing the way it does things and it's crucial it continues as only 1.6 per cent of Pacific people own their own business compared to 12 per cent of European New Zealanders.

"There is a tsunami of young people coming from our communities," he said.

"They are not going to have jobs - the biggest burden is the 15-36 young people not in employment or training or jobs, it is about 27,000 in Auckland alone.

"We've got to do something about it we can't just rely on Government to do things for us."

The Trust now has clear criteria it has to deliver to keep getting its funding and it is also selling its premises in Auckland as it is costing more than what it is earning.

The Ministry's CEO Pauline Winter says there have been many positives and the upcoming Pacific Business Trust awards at the end of this month is an example of the Trust moving forward.

"They want to succeed, we want them to succeed and the pacific community wants them to succeed."

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