Retreat Helps Affirming Works Take Steps Forward

Helping families come together in a safe environment was the aim of a three-day ‘Prosperous Families’ retreat hosted by Affirming Works.

Prosperous Families’ retreat hosted by Affirming Works. Kainga Tu’umalie programme

The family service was delighted that 18 families took part in the Kainga Tu’umalie (KT) programme, which encouraged values in the Tongan culture and provided teaching on “Fofola e Fala ka e talanoa e Kainga’’, the Nga Vaka o Kāiga Tapu framework, to restore families from the effects of family violence.

Families who attended the three days spoke highly of the opportunities to get together to talk and share their goals, dreams, and aspirations.

Tokilupe Tuipulotu, Family Services Co-Manager of Affirming Works,Tokilupe Tuipulotu, Family Services Co-Manager of Affirming Works, said among the outcomes of the retreat were the realisation for families that they had a sense of hope and could set goals together and finding ways and skills to help navigate their way in Aotearoa for their families, especially those who had recently moved from Tonga.

Among the feedback received by Affirming Works from the families was that they loved the programme, wanted to attend another retreat, felt empowered and encouraged and were now confident to make changes within their homes and families, hopefully leading to a safe and positive environment, particularly for the children.

Tokilupe said one family pointed out that the retreat allowed them to get together as a unit. With both mum and dad working it was hard to find time to be together as a family, but the retreat had given them the chance to focus on setting goals and moving forward.

Prosperous Families’ retreat hosted by Affirming Works

‘’Another example was of a father sharing how financial struggles had impacted the family, which usually led to violence. He gets frustrated and doesn’t know how to deal with his anger towards his wife and children, especially when his children disobey him,’’ Tokilupe said.

‘’He identified that he needed to change the way he disciplined his kids, he knew the root cause of all this was financial stress ... he shared that he just wants the best for his kids and wants them to work hard so they can have a better future.’’

Tokilupe said KT was important for Tongan families as the programme valued their culture and identity and was a ‘’strength-based, faith-based approach’’ to how families could live a prosperous life in New Zealand.

She said the retreat had confirmed the challenges families face, they included financial struggles, a lack of communication within the family and the language barrier.

But there was hope, Tokilupe said.

‘’As a service, we want to make sure we are making an impact on our families and ensure we are meeting their needs,’’ she said.

‘’A key learning for us, as a team, is making an impact and building a relationship with families, it’s an ongoing process. Working with them is a journey, it’s not an overnight process, it takes time and effort for people to unlearn old habits, especially around violence in a home.

‘’(At the retreat) we were able to learn from the families as to how we can better support and cater to their needs, and they learned from each other, knowing they are not alone.’’

Prosperous Families’ retreat hosted by Affirming Works

Affirming Works (AW) supports the Pasifika community in Auckland, New Zealand, through a combination of mentoring services, programmes, social enterprise and in 2023 celebrates 15 years servicing the community. 

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“Culture is a vital ingredient for building healthy relationships and meaningful engagement. It is culture that provides us with our unique perspectives, and also culture which defines the way we behave, and relate to the world…”