The warmth and diversity of Pasifika culture was celebrated at a special event in Glen Innes.
TRC’s Pasifika staff and members of the community hosted a Pasifika blessing in June, a day which included a traditional Cook Island, Samoan and Māori welcome, as well as speeches and cultural performances.
The event enabled the Pasifika community to formally welcome TRC’s Pasifika staff into Tāmaki and aimed to continue to strengthen relationships between TRC and the Pasifika community.
Former All Black Saveatama Eroni Clarke was the MC for the event which took place at Te Oro Music and Arts Centre. The event drew a crowd of more than 100 people, including members of TRC, Pacific community leaders, church ministers, representatives from Ruapotaka Marae and mana whenua, as well as from local and central government.
Tongan Pastor Richard Takapautolo blessed TRC staff and community on the day and TRC staff and whānau gave a lively music and dance performance representing Tongan, Samoan, Fijian, Cook Island and Niuean cultures.
Another highlight was the sacred Samoan ‘ava ceremony, which was performed by Pasifika community leaders and TRC senior leaders. This traditional practice involves sharing a ceremonial drink and marks two villages coming together as one.
Many of the speakers, including the chair of TRC’s Community Liaison Committee Finau Glen Tuala, talked about the need for TRC to continue to work with the community. Glen is also the director of Totara Seed Trust and Community Kids Early Learning Centres, as well as an elder at the Tāmaki Pacific Island Presbyterian Church.
“We are here to bless the work of TRC leaders and staff who are working within our community so that we can understand each other,” Glen said. “We need to ensure that, together, we are all able to continue to shape Tāmaki into an awesome place to live.”
TRC board chair John Robertson spoke about how Pasifika culture has helped shape Tāmaki into a vibrant and special place. “At TRC, our 22 Pasifika staff all celebrate their Pacific heritage. They are navigating their way on the noble journey of care and commitment to Pasifika families.
“TRC as an organisation strives in the same way, to support the endeavours of the Pasifika community, through its support for early childhood centres, for health services, for getting people their first jobs and for helping people move into new warm and dry homes.”
Niuean community leader Mali Erick spoke about the benefits that can come from regeneration. “TRC Pasifika staff have a great opportunity to build strong relationships with Pacific communities and make a difference.
"Thanks to TRC, one of our daughters bought an affordable house,” Mali said. “We are very grateful, and we want more of that for our Pacific people in Tāmaki.”