Te Aorerekura Hui Jun 2023 – Strengthening work being done

More than 230 people attended the second annual Te Aorerekura Hui in Jun 2023, with another 200 taking part online in meetings and panel discussions on the ‘National Strategy to Eliminate Family Violence and Sexual Violence’.


Among the panelists was Rachel Enosa, CEO of the Cause Collective and representing Pasefika Proud

Rachel spoke as part of a community panel on ‘the challenges of breaking the cycle of violence and strengthening the work being done’.  Also on this panel were Silvana Erenchun Perez (Shama) , Imogen Stone (Dear Em) and Ada Greig (Gender Minorities Aotearoa).

Rachel told an attentive audience of how the work being done with Pasefika Proud is bringing communities together against violence, and what had been successful so far.

She said that with more than 12 years’ experience under its belt, Pasifika Proud was well-known in the community for its own work and that with the Ministry of Social Development, practitioners, leaders up and down the country and Pasifika communities.

To start off Rachel shared a Samoan proverb - ‘e fofo e le alamea le alamea’ it referred to the crown-of-thorns starfish found in the Pacific homelands. To be stung by the spines of this ‘alamea’ was extremely painful, but it was known to the people that if you were stung, you should turn the starfish over to its soft spongy side, touch the wound on that side of the starfish and it would suck the poison out. The ‘alamea’ healed the wound that it had caused.

‘‘In other words, the solutions to violence can be found with our families and communities themselves. The kāinga may often present to us as broken, but there is great beauty in that brokenness and there are opportunities to restore and strengthen what may have once been a source of great pain,’’ she said.

‘’The story I have to tell is about eight ethnic specific communities in Auckland and Waikato who are working together to prevent violence, who understand the strength of their own cultural frameworks and how to draw on their own indigenous prevention systems from long ago as solutions for the problems to violence which we see surfacing in our kāinga today’’.

Rachel described it as a story about the ‘’bravery, courage, and compassion’’ of a group of Pacific community leaders who she and colleagues called ‘the champions of change’’.

They were made up of church and cultural leaders, practitioners, civil servants, young people, and elders. As cultural knowledge holders they completed the Nga Vaka o Kāiga Tapu training on the cultural frameworks and are now working together to share and learn and to voluntarily put their knowledge into community action.

Rachel said the reason she described them as brave and courageous was because they had held a mirror up to their own families and communities to recognise their own shortcomings.

‘’They have said ‘yes, there is a problem, yes, violence exists,’ and for many in our communities it has become so normalised and accepted to be part of our cultural ways,’’ she said.

‘’However, our 'champions of change' are taking a different view. In the context of our value system, they are saying there is no place for violence that disrupts or violates the sacredness of our relationships with one another. These champions have responded to a community call to action, and they are leading the way through the development of their own prototypes based on their cultural frameworks.’’

Rachel said they were taking western knowledge, so-called best practice, and they were weaving it together with their own cultural ancient wisdom to strengthen wellbeing and provide an alternative, but complementary, approach to mainstream solutions towards preventing violence.

‘’This story is about looking back to our past to take our families from where they are presently, into a healthy, strong, and safe future. It is a story about valuing an ethnic specific approach to preventing violence and about communities designing the solutions to their own problems,’’ she told the appreciative audience.

A question from the audience on how hard it was to bring the eight groups together elicited an honest response from Rachel.

She admitted it had been challenging in a number of ways.

‘’One of the biggest challenges is resourcing and time. The process they went through to develop or co-design their prototypes took six months, but the process of engagement with talanoa and allowing them to unpack the causes of the problem took 18 months,’’ she said.

‘’It had to be (moving) at the pace of the community, so yes there’s a lot of challenges around resourcing and time and giving the space needed to work across diverse communities.’’

She finished by answering a question on ‘pre-prevention,’ by highlighting the work being done in our communities.

‘’They are going back to our pre-system, so pre-colonisation, pre-migrant journey and looking at what the protective factors were in our families and communities. They are held within our value system and within those cultural contexts,’’ she said.

‘’The challenge and the beauty in the work that these communities are doing, is taking that knowledge, and working it through to how it is relevant today in Aotearoa in helping our children and young people and families to navigate the challenges that we see here, particularly when, perhaps, our village constructs or support networks are not the same as they were in our Pacific homelands.’’

ABOUT - The Annual Te Aorerekura Hui was held on the 14th of June 2023 and brought people together to learn and enable the collective work to implement the National Strategy to Eliminate Family Violence and Sexual Violence. The Hui will help to inform how Te Aorerekura is implemented, including the next Action Plan, the Investment Plan, the Outcomes Framework and plans to address the gaps in services.

Read more | Te Aorerekura - A step in the right direction