Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Church unifies Samoan community in Christchurch through its traditions and culture

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Avatar photo
Neueli Mauafu | Reporter

The Christchurch Samoan community continues to grow and at the centre of it all is a fraternity of Samoan church ministers helping to unify the community with its traditions.

‘Fa’avae i le Atua Samoa’ – Samoa is founded on God. It’s a phrase that has guided the Pacific nation for the past 61 years and it’s one that is upheld in the Samoan community in Christchurch.

Not only has it pulled the community together in dark times but has also brought them together to strengthen the Samoan culture. Someone who understands this well is EFKS Christchurch minister Rev Keresoma Seuala.

“We always have to put God first obviously,” Rev Seuala says.

“Us Samoans, we grew up together and (we’re) brought up in a religious community and it’s really important because we’ve put this program together, all minister’s here in Christchurch, and it’s just to bring our community together you know to help one another.”

An example of this unity was the recent celebration of Samoa’s Independence by the community, opening with an ava ceremony followed by cultural performances. Each church under the fraternity of ministers took part in the celebrations.

St Paul’s Trinity Pacific Presbyterian Church youth member Tailualetai Laufiso Solimalo says, despite Christchurch going through tough times, the church has been at the centre of keeping the community together.

“We’ve been a small city for a long time, but the numbers of Samoans in Christchurch have grown over the years,” Solimalo says.

“For me personally, I’m blessed to be alive to witness such occasions not only here in Christchurch, also our motherland in Samoa and around the world”.

Aside from putting together community events, inside the churches itself is where the cultural practices are visible too. Solimalo bears testament to this through her years in her church youth group.

“Our fa’asamoa and culture is really strong in our churches,” she says.

“The main platform for us in Christchurch is through the churches. So if we can come together, maybe two or three times a year, for these celebrations?”

Getting together to celebrate was also an opportunity for the community to reflect on the journey Samoa has made to independence. This year marked 61 years of Samoa’s freedom from colonial powers.

Rev Seuala led the celebrations with an opening sermon highlighting the importance of those who laid the foundation for the nation.

“Freedom. That was my main message. The past foretells the future. And it’s more of remembering our ancestors who came through the past of slavery under the colonial power of New Zealand.

“And it’s just praising God because this is all his work. He’s planned it well, especially if we remain under his love and care and have faith in him.”

Looking towards the future, there is hope that the Samoan community here will continue to grow. In the meantime, the church and fraternity of ministers and reverends will continue to do their part in uniting the community through its culture.

Part of this will also focus on making sure that the old and new generation find common ground in understanding the culture of Samoa as Rev Seuala hopes.

“Our oldies are starting to understand. You know this huge gap that’s been there for so many years. It’s time to close that gap and share their stories with the younger generation now.

“They need to understand that it’s the young generation now. You know it’s no more violence, we shouldn’t be violent anymore. We should share each other’s pain and grief and just work together. I think that’s why we need the church because it has its purpose to bring them together as one.”

Stay Connected

Subscribe to our mailing list to receive daily updates direct to your inbox!

*we hate spam as much as you do