Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Mātua ma Talavou, a beacon of intergenerational connection

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Hanalei Foliaki | Reporter/Director

Young and old help each other in a programme whose funding is about to run out.

Otahuhu Community Hall is where the young and old come together every fortnight for some fun and fellowship. 

It’s a programme called Mātua ma Talavou, and it’s been running for three years by  organisations The Village Collective and Toa Pacific to help improve the well-being and health of both the youth and the elderly. 

“We identified a need for two different audiences. Our older people and young people,” says Village Collective General Manager Manuariki Nofo’akifolau. 

“Loneliness and isolation affect both groups. For young Pacific people in New Zealand, this often ties to their cultural connection. We saw an opportunity for our elders to bridge that gap.”

Toa Pacific, which has supported the elderly since the early 2000s, collaborated with the Village Collective to address these issues. 

Malia Hamani, CEO of Toa Pacific, emphasised how vital the programme has been for the elderly. 

“Our older people need to be independent, able to participate, cared for, and dignified. When they are happy and healthy… everything else falls into place,” she says.

“The connection with young people strengthens this dynamic.”

For many of the elderly, these gatherings are the highlight of their week. 

“It’s really helpful because we have nothing to do at home,” says Mātua participant Hifo Muller.

Toleafoa Fe’epo is another Mātua participant who is enthused about the experience.

“I live alone but when we come together, I feel happy. The young people are so polite and respectful. They make us feel young again.” 

Xavier Breed, project coordinator for Mātua Ma Talavou, touched on the mutual benefits of these interactions. 

“Our Talavou are passionate about serving our elders. They gain valuable skills like communication, collaboration and teamwork, which they apply in their lives outside this programme,” he says.

Despite its success, the programme faces resource constraints, which will bring it to a halt at the end of June. 

“Unfortunately, Mātua Ma Talavou is only funded until June 30th,” says Nofo’akifolau. 

“But we’re exploring ways to continue aspects of the program. Over the past three and a half years we’ve built young people’s capability in health promotion and being champions of change”.

And The Village Collective team envisions a future where the programme’s impact extends beyond its current format.

“It would be great to see similar initiatives across the country. We believe these young people will return home and love their elders even more,” says Hamani. 

As the program winds down, its legacy of intergenerational connection and cultural reinforcement remains strong, proving that the simplest engagements can have a profound impact. 

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