Invercargill youth worker Opini Toomalatai (pictured) says the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) recent visit to the Deep South shows the Pacific community in the region they are valued and appreciated, and definitely not forgotten.
The Pacific Aotearoa Lalanga Fou Engagement Series continued last week, with the MPP team meeting with Pacific communities in Dunedin and Invercargill, to inform them what the Ministry can offer, and for communities to provide feedback on MPP’s initiatives.
Data collected from the engagements will be collated to update the Lalanga Fou Report, which sets guidelines for the Ministry’s body of work.
It is the first time since before the pandemic began that MPP has visited the Southern Pacific communities, and Opini says it has been timely.
“These fono are a great platform for our Pacific people, giving MPP more visibility of what it is about and how the Ministry can support us here in Southland.
“It has been really good to learn the support is there for us, I think more fono and more outreach with our community would be useful.”
Director of Regional Partnerships – Southern Diane Fenika says the South Island Pacific communities often feel isolated from their North Island counterparts.
“Not only are we geographically further away from the main Pacific populations in the North Island, but the Southern communities feel most of the available funding and support goes to communities in the North Island,” she explains.
“The key thing about these engagements, is our Southern communities feel supported, valued and included.
“Support should be based on peoples’ needs, and we learn what those are by hearing their stories.”
At the fono, communities heard about MPP’s initiatives including the Pacific Aotearoa COVID-19 Community Outreach, Pacific Business Village, Pacific Languages, Tupu Aotearoa, Toloa, Research and Evaluation, and Housing.
Reoccurring themes cropping up at the fono include people enquiring how to apply for funding from Toloa and the Pacific Business Village, along with people seeking assistance with buying their first home.
There has also been a strong interest in the revival and maintenance of Pacific languages.
Tonight (Tuesday), the MPP team will be engaging with Nelson’s Pacific community, at Saxton Netball Pavilion, from 6pm.
Email [email protected] to RSVP or for more information.