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Throughout my time as Hamilton West’s MP I have appreciated my close association with K’aute Pasifika, a Pan Pacific Charitable Trust whose mission is to improve the holistic well-being of Pacific communities. Recently I was privileged to attend their 20th anniversary celebration at a wonderful function in the Hamilton Gardens Pavilion.

Twenty years ago there was strong evidence that Pacific people were not using existing services and were over represented in all the statistics driven by deprivation. A group led by Leaupepe Peta Karalus sought to change this and organised an ethnic group meeting at the old WINTEC marae which included representation from the seven Pasifika organisations that had a known presence in Hamilton at the time. Thus K’aute Pasifika was born, an organisation that is strong in unity while celebrating the diversity that exists amongst its people. Poignantly, the vision was “Tangata Pasifika” – united we will achieve.

From that humble, courageous beginning, K’aute Pasifika has grown into an accredited, sustainable organisation employing 24 team members and growing. Currently they offer a range of services in Health, Social Services, Education, Whanau Ora, Gambling Harm Prevention and very recently they have moved into employment and training support. In practice, K’aute Pasifika provides a whole-of-family, wraparound service to all communities using Pacific models of care.

In recognition of Peta’s services to the Pacific Island community, she was awarded Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2006, and this year in March Peta received an Honorary Fellowship Award from Wintec. I am delighted that her fine work continues, now under the leadership of her daughter, Rachel, and that both have enjoyed the strong support and encouragement of Peta’s husband, Dr Pauli Noel Karalus, and the Trust’s energetic Chairman, Edgar Wilson (pictured here with Rachel and Peta at the anniversary celebration).

Recently the Hamilton City Council approved K’aute Pasifika’s bid to lease the site of the Stadium Bowling Club to create a Pan Pacific Community Hub. A large modern fale is proposed (pictured) and will become an integral part of the west town green belt with planned walkways featuring the flora and fauna particular to Pasifika.

“A hub brings people in, it doesn’t set us apart,” says Rachel. “The hub will be a place for all community to identify with and learn about Pacific culture, language, food and traditions; a place to welcome our Pacific visitors into the region; a place to celebrate and promote Pacific art; a place filled with activity and music; a place of healing and learning and a place from which all walks of life can be supported across all the wellbeing domains.”

K’aute Pasifika actively collaborates and partners with other providers. Collaboration with Primary Health Care Ltd will develop an expanded health service; Creators Educational Trust will assist in the development of an early learning space; and Orchestra Central will utilise the fale as a rehearsal and workshop venue, as well as a storage facility.

The design of the fale will be community driven and will reflect and celebrate all Pacific cultures – a wonderful story of unity, celebration and inclusiveness. Underpinning the vision for the hub will be love, respect and reciprocity. “It is really important to reflect everybody,” says Rachel, “including the youth who wish to have a voice.” K’aute Pasifika recently formed the Waikato Pacific Youth Network which empowers young people and encourages them to have their say – they are, after all, the future.

Trust Waikato has demonstrated significant leadership in the funding space by granting $2.2 million as seed funding for the hub, and building is planned to start in September 2020. I look forward to watching K’aute Pasifika continuing to flourish, serve and enrich our community for many years to come.

 

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