Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Pacific people urged to cut back on Christmas spending

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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Anauli Karima Fai'ai | Reporter/Director

Food, transport and gifts can make the Christmas season an expensive time for Pacific families but a financial mentor says it doesn’t have to be that way. 

The Vaiola Pacific Island budgeting service, based in Manukau, has been helping families struggling with the festive season’s financial demands.

Service manager Vai Harris says they have been distributing Christmas boxes, ensuring parents can treat their children.

“Because some of them, there’s hardly any money left over,” she says. 

“After they pay the rent, after they pay the mortgage, and they also have afterpay and existing loans. You know, our people live on finance companies.”

Community educator Kathleen Guttenbeil-Vatuvei says the cost of living crisis has worsened matters over the last few years, but that hasn’t stopped Pacific people from overspending.

“We all know what we should be doing, but we do get kind of taken over with that holiday spirit; unexpected visitors that might come, or plans that might change and that all kind of costs money,” she says.

She encourages people to curb excess spending to keep on track to meet other expenses such as rent and mortgage payments.

“If one thing we can actually advise our Pacific families is just make sure that you’re not going over your budget, make sure you know how much you’re spending and don’t try to go into those ‘buy now pay later’ schemes. Just be really mindful.”

Twenty-year-old Joshua Tokelau says the cost of living crisis has made things difficult, but having a side hustle as a consultant, on top of a full-time job, has eased the situation.

“It’s helped with living costs, it’s helped with petrol prices, it’s helped so much,” he says.

“Nowadays since everything goes up your normal 9-5 job can’t supply for your daily needs, daily costs.”

Christmas can get expensive for Joshua’s family, with eight siblings and extended relatives, but they have always been careful with money.

“Ever since my parents decided to buy a house, so the mortgage, interest rates going up, and petrol prices, it pushed them to budget further.

“Our parents are always reminding us to live within our means so that after Christmas you don’t have to worry about any debt or anything else.”

And, Joshua is urging Pacific people to remember one thing.

“I think the most important thing is to enjoy your family. Family is more important than spending.”

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