The Waikato public are invited to participate in two Pasifika-focused events this week, a fono (meeting) to have a say on the Pan Pacific Community Hub to be built in Hamilton, and Nesian Talks, a talanoa (conversation) with some "movers and shakers" in the Waikato Pasifika community as part of the Wintec Matariki festival.
The fono on Wednesday, July 22 from 5.30pm to 7.30pm at The Atrium, at the Wintec City campus in Hamilton is organised by K'aute Pasifika Trust.
Trust chief executive Leaupepe Rachel Karalus says: "Everyone is encouraged to have their say regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or age."
The fono is to encourage people to have their say as to how the new Pan Pacific Community Hub can be set up to better support the holistic wellbeing of families in the Waikato.
Investment for the hub was bolstered last week with a more than $1 million investment announced by Associate Minister of Education Jenny Salesa for the establishment of a Pan Pacific Early Learning Centre at the hub site - the former Hamilton Bowling Club in Hinemoa Park.
"K'aute Pasifika and the community have had this dream of establishing a community hub for over 20 years. What began in 2013 as a small investment in a Pacific playcentre, planted the seed for the hub. An integrated hub offering health, social, employment, housing, education spanning the life cycle of people is of benefit for everyone in the community," said Salesa.
In late 2017, Trust Waikato announced seed funding of $2.2m. Other confirmed contributors to the capital costs of the project to date include the Department of Internal Affairs (Community Facilities Fund) and Wel Energy Trust.
"The fono is to ensure the needs of the community are understood and met. The hub has come from the people, is for the people and so it must be absolutely focused on the people. The Hub is about inclusion," Karalus says.
K'aute Pasifika is hosting the fono with the help of its strategic partners Wintec and Hamilton City Council.
The following evening, Thursday, July 23, Wintec will host Nesian Talks at Te Kōpū Mānia o Kirikiriora Marae, also on the Wintec City campus.
Nesian Talks, part of the Wintec Matariki festival Horahia Matariki, is a talanoa with some "movers and shakers" in the Waikato Pasifika community, including Silaumea Petersen, a representative from K'aute Pasifika, who will discuss Matariki from different Pacific perspectives.
Karalus say Wednesday's fono is to ensure the needs of the community are understood and met.
The new hub in central Hamilton will be a first for New Zealand. Purpose-built, it will include an integrated health centre, and early childhood learning facility and an open fale-style community space for programmes as well as community and cultural events.
"A centralised and accessible Pan Pacific Community Hub will enable us to better support the holistic wellbeing of families using Pacific models of care, increase our connectedness and sense of identity, and celebrate and support academic, sporting, creative and leadership potential and achievements," says Karalus.
The integrated GP service and the early learning centre are being developed in partnership with Primary Health Care Limited and Creators Educational Trust.
"One of the big things from a wellbeing perspective is the need for Pacific people in the Waikato to have a space in which we can celebrate and maintain our languages, our practices and our traditions, and the ability to do that from a culturally appropriate and significant space will go some way to achieving that objective."
In the same vein of celebrating cultural practice and tradition, Nesian Talks is a chance for the community to hear from some key influencers in the Waikato Pasifika community to discuss the importance of Matariki in their lives and cultures.
Organiser of Nesian Talks is Wintec kaiawhina and researcher Horomona Horo, who says: "Nesian Talks was formed by our Horahia Matariki whānau to bring connection and to build relationships through culture.
"This will hopefully bring attention for all students and staff of all ethnicities, to hear and see our community organisations in dialogue with current cultural conversations."
Matariki is traditionally an important time of the year for Māori and many other cultures around the world, including the Pacific.
The art of reading the stars might be lost to many now, but the significance of the time of year has changed and adapted over the years, and newer generations of Māori and Pasifika people are reviving cultural practices and taking a renewed interest.
"The panellists – Robbie Atatoa from Hamilton Cook Island Association, Silaumea Petersen from K'aute Pasifika, Landy Nonoa from Talents of the Pacific Academy and Hamiora de Thierry from Te Runanga o Kirikiroa – will discuss what Matariki means to them, and what possibilities the celebration of Matariki can bring for cultural enrichment in our Māori and Pasifika communities," Horo says.
Nesian Talks is open to the public, and it is recommended that guests register on the Wintec website. For those that can't attend in person, a Zoom link will be sent out before the talanoa so people can watch the discussion online.
The fono and panel discussion are open to all members of the public and are important events to lift the profile of the region's diverse Pasifika community and its connection to all Waikato communities.
• Pan Pacific Community Hub fono: Wednesday, July 22, 5.30pm-7.30pm, The Atrium, Wintec House, corner of Anglesea and Ward streets, Hamilton.
• Nesian Talks: Thursday, July 23, doors open 6pm, Te Kōpū Mānia o Kirikiriroa Marae, Wintec City Campus. Register here.