Northland’s voice for the Pacific
(Picture caption: Fale Pasifika Te Tai Tokerau board and staff members, celebrate with community leaders at a recent function. L-R: Akoia Salu, Co-Chairman Johnny Kumitau, Alice Uale, Paula Tabakinabou, Chrissy Kupa-Wichman, Siniva To’oala, Manager May Seager, Pira Wichman, and Abenzar Wichman.)
The recent Lalanga Fou - Tulī Takes Flight fono in Whangarei has been the ideal opportunity for Fale Pasifika Te Tai Tokerau to share with people what it actually does, and its goal to be the voice of Northland’s Pacific community.
With aims to help strengthen the Northland Pacific community’s awareness about their own culture and to connect people, as well as to promoting good education, health and wellbeing, the organisation is kept very busy, Manager May Seager says.
“People don’t often see the full range of our services and projects, so it was great to be able to tell all the people who attended the recent fono, about what we do and what we hope to do in the future.”
The fono was also a chance to share what initiatives Fale Pasifika has been working on this year.
“We have doing our Business As Usual (BAU) which is working with the District Health Board on advocacy, being the voice for Pasifika in the Northland community; and we have also been promoting health messages and updates to the community via our Facebook page and community leaders.”
Encouraging and promoting Pacific culture throughout Northland is a big part of Fale Pasifika’s recent work, having staged the Northland Pasifika Fusion Festival at Hihiaua Peninsula Park, Whangarei; and continuing to roll out its Cultural Awareness Pacific Programme (CAPP).
Another priority this year is its focus on education and youth.
In March, the organisation facilitated a Reading Together programme with several families; while in April, it hosted a Pasifika Youth STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) workshop.
“We are also running the Pacific PowerUp Education Programme which has been a great experience and opportunity to help Pacific families,” May adds.
"This year, Fale Pasifika hope to engage Pacific families more positively in the education system, with a view to helping them to become more empowered and to better support their children.
“We will continue with the CAPP programme, reaching out to Kaitaia and holding another one in Whangarei before the end of the year; and we are also working towards establishing a Pacific network throughout the region.”
She adds the idea is to speak with people in the regions about this concept and to ask them about their needs and concerns, and identify ways Fale Pasifika can assist them.
During the fono, May also spoke about the growth in Pacific groups in schools, reflecting the increase in numbers of Pacific peoples in Northland.
“I also talked about the resilience of Pasifika peoples in Northland and their ‘can do’ attitude.
“This is a character of our communities which are out of the main centres; we can get on and do what needs to be done.”
Fale Pasifika was pleased to be a part of the fono, and May says hopefully there will be positive outcomes for communities based in the regions following this engagement from the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP).
“I hope it gives people a better sense of us as Pasifika throughout the country.
“Although we do our own thing in the regions, there are many others like us throughout the country, doing lots of amazing work and representing our communities - I think it provides a sense of connectedness.”
“It also shows support for our communities and gives us a chance for our voices to be heard at a higher level through the Minister and the team at the Ministry - it shows we do matter and people are available to help us.”
In Northland, there is a lot more which can be done to help Pacific communities thrive if organisations such as Fale Pasifika had more support and had access to people to help them navigate that support, May adds.
Running Pacific language classes is one example, she says.
“We have had people run classes in the past but we haven’t had a sustainable way of making sure that continues - people get tired but also, no-one has had training in actually teaching other people.
“This is definitely an area we hope to get some help with and it was great having the Pacific Education Centre staff attend the fono.”
There is also potential for assistance in the area of business and social enterprise in the Northland community.
“Some of our people have great ideas but don’t have access to advice or examples of how their ideas might turn into something commercial,” May says.
Fale Pasifika already has a great relationship with the MPP team, and it would be great if MPP could assist the organisation with resources and advice, May says.
Lalanga Fou - Tulī Takes Flight is on the road again, with events coming up in Palmerston North and Tauranga. A fono will be staged on August 2 in Palmerston North and in Tauranga on August 19 (please note, this date has been changed). Visit Pacific Aotearoa for more information.