Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

“We’re here to stay”- K’aute Pasifika Village Opens in the heart of Hamilton

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
Minister Sio says “we’re also rekindling our whanaungatanga relationship with Tainui and the Maori stone that was gifted this morning comes from one of the original Pa’s, fertile land. That Maori stone will now be located inside this fale.” Photo: Tagata Pasifika/Gladys Hartson 
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Gladys Hartson | Senior Journalist

“We’re here to stay”, that is the sentiment shared by the Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio at the opening of the first stage of K’aute Pasifika’s Village in Kirikiriroa Hamilton this morning.

The first of its kind in New Zealand, the Village will provide Pasifika-focused holistic, wraparound services including an early learning centre, integrated wellbeing services and an iconic fale (meeting house) for community and cultural events.

Minister Sio says this morning’s opening was not only momentous for Pacific people but also for Tangata Whenua.

“We’re also rekindling our whanaungatanga relationship with Tainui and the Maori stone that was gifted this morning comes from one of the original Pa’s, fertile land. That Maori stone will now be located inside this fale.

“May it, in spirit, kindle and enable our Pacific peoples here in Kirikiriroa to thrive and flourish, but to be well established as integral members of the Waikato region,” Minister Sio says.

K’aute Pasifika Trust CEO Leaupepe Rachel Karalus acknowledged that it has been a long journey and humbling to see the dream come to fruition.

She paid tribute to her mother, Leaupepe Elisapeta Karalus, who alongside other community members embarked on the journey 24 years ago.

“So much time has been gifted by the community generally just to get people to the table to share the ideas that now manifest into the new fale.” Photo: Tagata Pasifika/Gladys Hartson

“There’s been a couple of times along the course of this journey I wondered whether Mum was going to be able to see this happen and so it is quite emotional for me to wake up this morning and to know that Mum is going to be here.

“And people like Martin Gallagher, Labour MP and former city councillor who was actually part of those early discussions 24 years ago, someone who’s been a champion of our Pacific community before we had visibility or a voice, it’s been quite emotional,” Leaupepe Rachel says.

The Chair of the Trust Namalau’ulu Lale Ieremia says this is a project delivered through partnership, relationships and a shared vision of a Village for all, focused on Pacific models and practices.

Namalau’ulu acknowledged the tireless work of the community with whom, for many, this project has been a Labour of love.

“So much time has been gifted by the community generally just to get people to the table to share the ideas that now manifest into the new fale.”

Leaupepe Rachel Karalus says it is a time to reflect on the journey, to remember the supporters and voices that are not with us today, and be grateful. She added that it is another step in a broader vision of supporting Pacific aspiration and contribution in the Region.

“People when they come into Ka’ute Pasifika are coming in because they want to serve. not for another reason.

“And so it is that heart for service, it is that heart for reciprocity, to give back, that has enabled us to achieve so much with so little.”

Waikato has a growing Pacific population of almost 25,000. Plans are underway for the support and development of similar Villages and Pacific housing solutions throughout the region. Discussions are also underway to host a potential Pacific rugby sevens tournament in the future.

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