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Pacific champion's outstanding community service awarded

Pacific champion's outstanding community service awarded

  • 05 Dec 2022
Robert Fifita Tovo Article 1

Credit is given where credit is due; and none more so than to Rob Fifita-Tovo who became the first Pacific person to receive a civic award in the Horowhenua District.

Rob was awarded the civic honour on 22 November in a ceremony hosted by Horowhenua District Council.

It comes after 12 years of benevolent and outstanding service to his community.

In 2010, a need for better services and support for Pacific peoples was identified through poor statistics and outcomes.

So, Rob and his colleague Lusa Pasene set about to strengthen Pacific networks and work towards improving social, education, health, and wellbeing outcomes.

This resulted in the formation of Fale Pasifika Horowhenua, with Rob becoming the organisation’s inaugural chairperson.

He approached others to join the committee, who were also passionate about the development of Pacific peoples and their aspirations.

Together, they worked to improve outcomes, and develop a flourishing, proud Pacific community.

Over the past 12 years Rob has held the chairperson and deputy chairperson positions and has been instrumental in many initiatives for the Pacific and wider community.

This includes the very first Horowhenua Pasifika Celebration Day in 2011, which celebrated its 10-year anniversary last year.

The annual event involves more than 200 performers each year, from many Pacific Island nations, of all generations. 

It also brings together locals and visitors from outside the district and attracts up to 5000 spectators each year.

Since 2013, Rob has supported many Pasifika Youth Jandal Jam events involving 120 college students each year. 

This involves a forum with motivational speakers which Rob has often facilitated, and an evening show which is a showcase of youth culture and talent.

Rob says it is heart-warming to see parents, aiga and the community show their support for their young people at this forum.

From 2012 to 2014, Rob was part of a Pacific Education Working Group that included intermediate and college principals.

He was a significant influence within this group, supporting church visits and making important introductions between working group members, church ministers and church congregations.

During this time, the PowerUp initiative and Pasifika Success Talanoa trainings were established.

These initiatives were aimed at increasing school attendance rates and achievement, improving parental engagement in their children's education and teaching professionals the Pacific culture and customs.

“This training was relevant in order for these professionals to understand and teach Pacific children,” Rob added.

In 2020, through the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF), an opportunity arose for Fale Pasifika Horowhenua to work with Council to apply to the Pasifika Churches Renovation Fund.

Rob was on the group that worked with contractors and church representatives to scope renovations and designs.

Once the funding of $1.46 million was approved, Rob continued to liaise between the PGF fund, Horowhenua District Council and the Church.