Pasifika Facebook groups to follow during lockdown
Many of our grassroots community leaders and creatives have utilised the online world to create spaces of information, talanoa and creativity for our Pasifika people during this lockdown. Here are some of the pages and groups you can follow:
Created for people who may feel disconnected, alone or anxious in these uncertain times, the Calm our Community Facebook group is a positive space for people to connect, create and check in with one another.
Māori and Pasifika Youth advocate Arizona Leger says their village encourages its followers to participate in a wide variety of mental, spiritual and physical exercises – all from the comfort of their individual bubbles.
“This means we might have a morning mindfulness video where one of the creators walks our community through a mindfulness session. In the evening we host an online village talanoa via Zoom for anyone who is feeling like they just want to chat with others about their day.”
The group has grown much since its inception, and the online world has played a major role in keeping people connected. Leger says, “Whilst we knew that opening a group on Facebook was not going to fix the world, I just wanted to be able to provide an additional means of support and space for those who could access Facebook.”
“They say it takes a village to raise a child, but I also think it takes a village to get through times of crisis, and so we wanted to try and find a way that we could create a digital version of that village until people could be physically reconnected with their literal villages.”
With more ‘digital villagers’ continuing to join Calm our Community, Leger says the response to the group has been both overwhelming and humbling.
“We have had individuals share that they appreciate engaging with a platform where people feel ok to exist in amongst everything going on, which is crazy because we honestly had no idea whether this idea would work or not,” Leger says.
“Even if only one person joined the village, and that one person felt heard and seen throughout this lockdown because of the engagement with our content, then that would’ve been more than enough of an achievement for us.”
With many gigs, performances and projects surrendered to the Covid-19 lockdown, there’s no doubt the arts sector has been hit hard by the Coronavirus outbreak.
Created by a group of Māori and Oceania practitioners, group member Louisa Tipene Opetaia says the page is a safe space for their creative community to share and talanoa.
“We recognised that the needs and wants of Indigenous Artists are nuanced and felt that there was a need to have a space specifically for Indigenous Artists to be able to share space, resources and mahi,” Opetaia says.
“Everything we post is in some form, shape, way or language that speaks to tending to our hauora. Hau meaning breath and ora meaning to live. As people of the moana, the wellbeing of our mind, body, wairua and especially our whānau is crucial.”
Their posts vary from workshops, upskilling opportunities and sharing work.
“Mana Moana Creatives is an online space for us to contribute, share, exchange our three tikanga of Hauora (Health & Wellbeing which is wrapped in love) Manaakitanga (Support and uplifting everyone’s mana) and Tautoko (Support in terms of aid, access of information).”
“Everyone creative that joins the group comes with their own experiences, connections, networks and interests,” says Opetaia.
“We encourage everyone to feed into the space with generosity and transparency. It is a judgement-free space for us all to have the necessary conversations to help us empower our community to collectively move forward.”
The Cause Collective is a social change agency working in South Auckland. As news of the global impact of Coronavirus reached New Zealand, Collective Storyteller Sandra Kailahi says their team decided to take action in early March.
“We decided to start the #PrepareSouthAuckland Facebook page as a way to rally our communities, provide information but deliver content that was relevant and engaging for our Pasifika and Māori communities in South Auckland,” says Kailahi.
The film producer and former journalist said the Cause Collective wanted to be proactive and prioritise South Auckland, “because so many times that’s not the case”.
“Statistics show many of our communities in South Auckland are the most vulnerable in New Zealand due to poverty, poor housing and health. Media coverage tends to be negative about South Auckland, so starting the page was a way to change the narrative and promote and put South Auckland first.”
The team created their own video content, interviewing numerous South Auckland residents. “We asked them questions about ‘What’s worrying you the most about Coronavirus?’ and ‘How are you preparing for self-isolation?’,” says Kailahi. “We also spoke with doctors about issues concerning our communities like – ‘How do I know if the information I see on social media is correct?’”
The team are using #PrepareSouthAuckland to test the ways in which they engage with Pacific communities in conversations surrounding Coronavirus. “We are taking the learnings to see how we can work with District Health Boards and other government agencies on better ways to engage with Pacific people on the Coronavirus.”
With concerns that some Pacific people have not yet grasped the reality of life with Covid-19, the Pasifika Against Coronavirus (PAC19) group has used Pacific history as a means of educating people about the devastating effects the virus could have on our communities. On the day the lockdown was announced, the team released a video detailing the devastation caused by the Spanish Influenza.
“This video was multi-layered in its artistic storytelling to fuse several messages that would relate to a range of Pacific Moana ethnic specific communities and across multi generations,” says the team.
“The video aimed to show that we had the resilience of our ancestors to unite and fight, and to remember that we are the fruit of their labour because they fought for the survival of future generations.”
Collaborating with the Pacific Leaders Forum (PLF), PAC19 is made up of Pacific volunteers, workers and skillsets, aiming to “engage a younger and wider generation of Pasifika.”
“Our aim was to support and strengthen the NZ government Covid19 communications, by specifically targeting and engaging with Pasifika people across New Zealand. However, we are also reaching Pasifika people across the globe that are relating to the messages and have connections to Pasifika families in New Zealand.”
The team have released a series titled ‘Testing Positive’, genuine stories aimed to unite and uplift our people during the lockdown.
“The raw footage of short video clips aimed to highlight the positive family stories but acknowledge the struggles and challenges were real and can be common across our communities,” says the team.
“Self-isolation in the home significantly affected the Pasifika communal way of life. ‘Testing positive’ was a way to help express and maintain connectedness online and a positive attitude and spirit as much as possible during this time.”
by Alice Lolohea