Pacific Practitioners’ Fono - Hawke's Bay & Tairāwhiti

Hawkes Bay and Tairāwhiti  are the latest regions to welcome the Fono aimed at putting a halt to the scourge of Family Violence and Sexual Violence (FV/SV) in our Pasifika communities, funded and supported by PASEFIKA PROUD.

The theme of the fono was, “E tua le fale tele I le fale o’o” – Even the mighty needs others.

This proverb portrays the core Pacific principles and values of leadership, working in partnership, collectivism, reciprocity, service, love, relationship, and sharing.  The fale tele is nothing without the faleo’o.  They need each other no matter what the circumstance. “Even the mighty, needs others” 

The Hawkes Bay and Tairāwhiti fono follows others held across the motu for agencies, providers, and organisations serving Pacific to fill their kete and connect with others in a similar space. The aim is for those who attend to leave feeling inspired, connected to others in the field (increase collaboration), and be ready to go out into our communities equipped with tools and knowledge to help support our whanau in the family harm/ family violence/ sexual violence space. 

Pacific Practitioners’ Forum co-ordinators Cecilia Vakameilalo-Kioa and Rasela Luapo described the fono as an exciting time for practitioners in the field of FV/SV, giving them a chance to strengthen connections, share their knowledge, discuss and amplify the crucial work that is happening within Pacific communities. 

Praise was given to the regions local komiti and community organisations - Kainga Pasifika Services, Ngati Kahungunu Iwi, Mapu Maia Hawkes Bay and Aiga Mua Hastings - for their part in making the day a success. 

Back row from left – Tevita Fakaosi (KPS), Arona Leleimalefaga (MSD), Maarateina Fameitau (Aigamua) and Tino Kama (OT/KPS) Front row from left – Morgan Siaki (KPS), Judy Fakaosi-Siaki (KPS), Seletuta Visesio-Pita (MSD), Cecilia Vakameilalo-Kioa (Coordinator), Rasela Luapo (Coordinator)

Back row from left – Tevita Fakaosi (KPS), Arona Leleimalefaga (MSD), Maarateina Fameitau (Aigamua) and Tino Kama (OT/KPS) Front row from left – Morgan Siaki (KPS), Judy Fakaosi-Siaki (KPS), Seletuta Visesio-Pita (MSD), Cecilia Vakameilalo-Kioa (Coordinator), Rasela Luapo (Coordinator)

Rasela said the continued commitment to addressing and ending family violence and sexual violence was to the forefront of everything said and done on the day. 

The programme included a range of speakers and workshops.

  • WORKSHOP ONE was led and facilitated by Kainga PasIfika Services, by Judy Fakaosi-Siaki and Morgan Siaki. 
  • WORKSHOP TWO focused on the Pasifika Rainbow Community with speakers Shaquila and Maia from Nevertheless organisation 
  • WORKSHOP THREE was all about practitioner wellbeing, addressing spiritual abuse, supporting spiritual wellbeing and the speaker was Kara Duncan-Hewitt. 

There were also representatives for the
Te Puna Aonui and Ministry of Social Development including an all of Government presentation on the National Strategy to Eliminate Family Violence and Sexual Violence. Speakers were Liz Tanielu (Chief Advisor - Te Puna Aonui) and Karen Barlett - Regional Commissioner / Regional Public Service Commissioner for East Coast 

The fono included powerful guest speakers who shared ‘lived experiences’, and Leaula Sililo Pio and son who spoke about family violence. One attendee said “Leaula spoke with certainty and strength. His bravery and courage to speak as a perpetrator humbled me”. 

Uipo Uipo-Tagaloasa, Peer Support worker at Tautoko Tane also shared his very personal journey entitled, ‘who I am makes a difference’ 

An attendee commented that he had not seen a father and son share their story in such a public way before. It had taken the father ten years to ask his son for forgiveness for abusing him, and when he did there were tears in the eyes of almost everyone in the room. 

"The reason I was crying was because I know a lot of our Samoan men are struggling to understand smacking, discipline and love because of the way we were brought up," the attendee said.  

"But I also thought about our Samoan New Zealand-born men who have no idea of why their dad was so hard on them and why they disciplined them the way they did." 

He said there were many things to have to try to understand, such as language barriers, different ways of communication and a lack of understand. But it was important that they broke the cycle of violence. 

As usual, following the day's proceedings, participants were invited to share their feedback through the Hearts of Hope messages, and many took the opportunity to do so. 

Among the 'likes' in the feedback were comments such as: 

  • The structure, a great balance of formal/informal
  • Information provided helped (us) to understand how to help and support Pasefika
  • I enjoyed listening to the real-life stories and seeing so many passionate people

And a wish list from people, including: 

  • More opportunity for male survivors of sexual abuse to share their stories
  • A longer time, with suggestions that one day was not enough to cover all the topics that needed covering
  • Training for Pacific leaders that could then be taken back and delivered to their families and communities

And people also wondered aloud about some topics: 

  • How they could better support Pasifika communities in rural secluded areas, that did not have the services that were in place in bigger centres
  • How could we make more 'safe spaces' for victims of FV/SV to come forward
  • What Hawkes Bay Pasifika communities would look like in 10 years' time. If the wider community could access the information from the day, maybe be taught through church and school to help the next generation.

Tuta Visesio-Pita, lead advisor for Pasefika Proud said, “it has been hopeful to see and know that Pasefika Proud are enabling this opportunity and platform for Pacific Practitioners to come together, share and find solutions of how to better work together in servicing Pacific people who experience FVSV and work collaboratively to prevent the vicious cycle affecting Pacific families”. “There is a genuine commitment of Pacific Practitioners across the six regions to continue connecting, working in collaboration, sharing knowledge and perhaps speciality and resources to better service Pacific people. 

Pasefika Proud will continue to connect with the regional networks of Pacific Practitioners across the spectrum of prevention, crisis and healing spaces to better understand key priorities for actions because of these regional fonos, and how to better connect with regional public service and leadership groups in the FVSV sector. 

The Pacific Practitioners’ regional planning committee 

For more information contact –  

Pasefika Proud is a proud partner supporting the delivery of regional fono as the lead programme for family violence prevention for Pacific peoples through the Nga Vaka o Kāiga Tapu Pacific cultural framework. (Te Aorerekura - Shift 4)  

Also of interest: 

  1. Pacific Practitioners' Fono - Waikato, Bay of Plenty & Taranaki
  2. Fono brings together South-Island based practitioners
  3. Pacific Practitioners' Forum Update
  4. Time for Action on Pacific Practitioners' Forum Plans
  5. Te Aorerekura Hui Jun 2023 - Strengthening working being done
  6. National Pacific Practitioners' Fono
  7. Te Aorerekura - A step in the right direction
  8. National Strategy to Eliminate Family Violence and Sexual Violence
  9. Government launches significant initiative towards violence prevention & elimination