A new beginning
O le fuata ma lona lou, ole aso ma le filiga, ole aso ma le mata’igatila – every season brings new opportunities, new ideas, new choices and new leadership.
We are living in the most unequal of times. Natural disasters and a merciless pandemic fuel our disadvantage, resulting in unprecedented levels of Pasefika poverty.
Our Pasefika communities are experiencing the worst of the cost of living crisis, their vulnerabilities exposed to the harshness of record levels of rising food, energy , and transport prices, unmanageable housing costs, and debilitating poverty unseen since the early migration of the 40s. - it’s a constant reminder of our painful fragility, laid bare in the Productivity Commission’s latest 2023 Report showing that one in three Pacific people experience ongoing deprivation. This jumps to almost one in two for Pacific households in Counties Manukau.
Controlling for larger households, as well as how young and urban the Pacific population is, actually shows Pacific households are “no more likely than non-Pacific households to be persistently income poor or excluded” Anas winter and other natural disasters bite, our famed resilience is taking battering from the economic, social, and mental health consequences of ongoing turmoil.
The reality for most of us is there is no respite or sense of relief around the corner anytime soon. And when real help finally arrives, it will take decades to rebuild and repair lives. In the meantime, we can all try and do what we can, with what we have, and start reaching out.
In Hawaii they say, “everybody pull the canoe together; bail and paddle, paddle and bail; and the shore will be reached”. It may take decades to get to shore, but we will ultimately get there. We need to dig deep into the wells of our histories and our stories of the migration as our guide, connector, and inspiration for our lives in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Central Pacific Collective
Central Pacific Collective (CPC) is in the early stages of this journey and beginning to do our bit.
CPC began 5 years ago as a collective of 4 Pasefika Health Providers funded by the Ministry of Health to manage a government Pacific Provider Development Fund to support workforce and organisational development in the Wellington Region. That funding stopped in 2019, and CPC repositioned to a wider and more focused purpose as a wellbeing organisation; supporting efforts in the region to deliver positive and sustainable results in the areas of health, education, income and employment, community safety and housing.
Our Whare Our Fale
In 2020, just after the arrival of COVID, CPC entered the housing space.
Local Iwi Ngāti Toa wasso moved by the plight of our communities in Porirua for housing relief, that its new CEO Helmut Modlik made a manaakitanga-based proposition. Over a cup of coffee Helmut offered Ngāti Toa land to allow Pasefika community to build homes for their families in Eastern Porirua, provided CPC finds the money to build them. A vision to ‘re-imagine the Pasefika village in 21st century Aotearoa New Zealand’ was seeded.
In May 2022,CPC secured government funding of $115m to build up to 300 affordable Pasefika designed homes in Eastern Porirua. It’s a unique project offering Pasefika communities their Mana Motuhake moment, in a historical whanaungatanga partnership with Ngāti Toa and Central government. We are now in full planning mode for the project, including standing up the Pasefika Housing Trust to manage and build Our Whare Our Fale (OWOF) homes.
A community led approach to wellbeing
This special housing project is the first cab-off-the-rank for our wellbeing journey.
Housing is a critical determinant of wellbeing. OWOF enables CPC to fully leverage and implement its wellbeing delivery work serving 45,000 Pasefika people across the region from Wellington city, the Porirua basin, Hutt Valley and Wairarapa. We plan to engage our communities with full voice and support to set a 30-year vision and strategic direction for a strong, resilient and prosperous Pasefika community.
As a community-led organisation, CPC will build a community-informed and empowered NGO to bring real and transformative change to the lives of our families and our communities. CPC will set-up structures and systems to facilitate its interactions across communities and their institutions to focus on solutions and tangible results. CPC will be an accountable organisation.
The CPC Board is chaired by Dr Margaret Southwick, a prominent educationalist and health clinician and Pacific pioneer.
We intend to have the organisation fully operationalised by June 2024. This establishment phase is being led by Fa’amatuainu Tino Pereira, the CEO of CPC and the Pasefika Housing Trust.
The idea is to build a high-performing, productive and socially cohesive Pasefika workforce that can operate anywhere. CPC is building Pasefika capability and capacity to the highest standard of competency and cultural integrity. The organisation can build bespoke models of effective workforce participation in all areas of social, economic, financial, construction and technological development. This 21st century Pasefika workforce will also work to explore their relational skills based on the concepts and practices of the “ Va”, a highly sophisticated form of human interaction based on the simplicity of holistic relationships and connections.
There is much to do, but there is also much to more to gain if we as a community take time to look after ourselves first, reflect on all our journeys, and re-affirm our commitment to our own families and our communities as we re-assert our values, traditions and practices amidst the storm.
Ole aso male filiga, ole aso ma le mata’igatila – new opportunities are here. Let’s paddle together!