National Director Pacific, Ministry of Social Development Liz Tanielu is excited and optimistic at the commitment shown by the Pasefika Proud community in working towards the common goal of eradicating family violence in New Zealand.
“As our Pasefika Proud National and Regional Pacific Community Leaders Fono series came to a conclusion, I felt energised and somewhat relieved by the passion and commitment that emerged from each Fono (held in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch in 2016).
“We were all focused on mobilising our Pacific communities to play an active role to positively strengthen our responses to our families.
“We stand at a critical tipping point. We have an opportunity to positively engage with how government supports vulnerable Pacific children, young people and their families.
“Our Fono reports are a vital resource to continue to spark conversations about the ways we can collectively address violence and abuse within our families.
“Bringing faith communities to talanoa (converse/raise issues) alongside social service providers at each Fono was a significant point of difference to previous events.
“The Church has a significant cultural and spiritual role in the lives of Pacific peoples. Almost three-quarters – 73% - of New Zealand’s total Pacific population are affiliated to a church.
“The success of any church is based on the success of its families. Church leaders have long-standing and trusted relationships with their families that will outlast any connection with government agencies or social service providers, so why not engage with them to effect positive change for our families?
“We cannot afford to ignore the potential of the Church as a change agent in the lives of Pacific families.
“This is a genuine opportunity to equip our Pacific Church leaders with the necessary tools to better support their families to be strong and successful - so they can start leading the change.
“Providers welcomed opportunities to share their knowledge, expertise and connect with others who work with vulnerable families and to connect with those in their region – an opportunity they do not get often enough.
“There was the goodwill, energy and desire to do things differently. While resources were discussed, more often the conversation turned to what actions can be taken to ensure that services and support are delivered to achieve best outcomes for families and how any gaps can be filled.
“With each generation, new leaders emerge. We’re now into our third or fourth generations of New Zealand-born who still identify as Pacific. There is an increasing proportion who have mixed ethnicity as well.
“We’re also seeing a cultural renaissance, a desire to learn our languages and understand our practices.
"How can we build on that groundswell to turn our knowledge and expertise into providing relevant tools to deliver services that respond to our people most in need, while also allowing our cultures to thrive in New Zealand?"
“As we all go about our work, we should constantly ask this of ourselves.
“There’s an expression which goes ‘no one else is coming’ to highlight the urgency and responsibility we have to lead the change.
“The Fono created opportunities to recast the vision, mobilise the movement and consider opportunities to activate this at strategic, national and regional levels.
"Strong, safe, vibrant and successful families are our asset base for our future. We hope the Fono will build a groundswell of action so more of our people can benefit. At the end of the day, it is ‘Our Families, Our People and Our Responsibility”.
“The momentum for positive transformation has started. Let all of us build on it.”