Joining the Pacific Vision journey is significant for South Island communities

posted: 4:00 pm - 2nd June 2019
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(Picture caption: The Lalanga Fou - Tulī Takes Flight Fono - Dunedin was a great success with the Pacific community from the Dunedin area gathering to learn more and engage in discussion around the Pacific Vision, and being Pacific in Aotearoa.) 

Being a part of the Pacific Aotearoa Lalanga Fou journey is hugely important for the Dunedin Pacific community, according to Pacific Otago Trust’s Chief Executive (CE) Lester Dean.

A series of meetings with the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) team leading up to the Lalanga Fou – Tulī Takes Flight fono on May 25, in Dunedin was the catalyst to be invited to present at the fono.

“This was an opportunity to showcase Pacific Trust Otago, in a different space and audience,” Lester says.  

“The importance of the event and the presence of the Minister for Pacific Peoples can never be understated – with the launch of Lalanga Fou – the Pacific community in Aotearoa has a voice, a direction and an opportunity to move into the future with confidence,” he adds.  

Lester started with the Trust in September 2014 as the CE, and for the past four years, he has been challenged to initiate positive changes to move the organisation forward.

Pacific Trust Otago was established in 1999 by a small group of Pacific community workers, determined to improve Pacific peoples’ access to health services in Dunedin.

The organisation has since, delivered a range of health and social support programmes, with funding from various government ministries.

In recent years, the Trust has diversified its core activities to include education, physical activities, social services and business enterprises.

“This has been a strategic effort by the Board to strengthen its governance and operations to ensure the organisation is professional, viable and innovative,” Lester explains.

Its mission is to provide a space where peoples connect, he adds.

A foray by the Board into enterprise and business to secure its own long-term funding stream resulted in the establishment of a low-cost housing project in partnership with five business mentors from Dunedin.

“The project is expected to grow into the Pacific Islands during the near future while local Dunedin and New Zealand interest of the concept is continuing to grow as well,” the CE adds. 

The Trust is in a unique position, of having many ethnic groups in its family, rather than, a single entity managing its affairs.

A community board from the following island groups of Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands, Fiji, Tokelau, Tuvalu, Niue, Kiribati provide the governance and leadership.

The seven current staff provide the operational energy, commitment and passion to deliver a wide range of support activities and events for the Pacific community.

Lester says building positive relationship and partnerships with other organisations is an important long-term strategy for the Trust as the benefits to be gained by sharing resources with other organisations in a similar sector are enormous for all parties.

Pacific Trust Otago has clear goals, which align with Lalanga Fou’s goals.

The organisation strives to create an environment that nurtures the well-being of Pacific people; provide support services to improve access and well-being; and promote a professional, viable and innovative work environment.

“There has been a major shift in thinking within the organisation, recognising the need to be relevant, resilient, transparent, credible and valued are important if we are to be considered seriously by others in the community sector,” Lester says.

Visit Pacific Aotearoa to stay updated about Lalanga Fou – Tulī  Takes Flight fono events, which sees MPP engaging with Pacific communities around New Zealand about Lalanga Fou and its objectives, as well as hearing what concerns and aspirations Pacific people have in Aotearoa.