Talofa lava, ni sa bula vinaka, malo e lelei, Pasifik greetings to all the Central Lakes districts.
In our island style we [the Pasifika community] gathered and introduced ourselves into our communities with a family barbecue and sports afternoon at the Alpha Street Park, Cromwell on September 26, 2022; the Queen’s funeral and New Zealand public holiday.
Thank you God for the beautiful Central Otago weather.
We are just beginning to celebrate and share our lives with each other and most importantly with you, our community.
We are adapting to the way of life here within the culture and traditions of Aotearoa, our adopted home.
Getting ourselves acclimatised may take a little longer — having gone from white sunny, sandy shores and swaying palm trees to snowy mountain peaks and hoar frosts beautifully sparkling in the wintry sun.
In these beautiful and amazing island countries of the Pacific, we learn to weave our cultures together and live harmoniously, valuing each other’s ways of life and praising God’s guiding hands in navigating our waka from Moana Nui a Kiwa to Aotearoa shores.
We are so blessed to be here to contribute as Pasifik people into the economy in every industry, from horticulture, hospitality, construction and insulation to apiculture, education, health, caregiving and retail and as truck drivers and business owners.
Our wellbeing is always interconnected — physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological — and these are all tied together by our social connectedness with each other in all our relationships, so our gatherings are vital to our mental health.
Talanoa, story telling, laughter, singing, sharing kai/ food and sharing our experiences — we support each other and teach our young ones our languages and cultural traditions.
In keeping these gatherings we learn and teach each other our ways.
We are the only teachers of our traditions, our cultural ways of being, our languages, our songs, the traditional dances and traditional practices such as ava and yaqona for ceremonies and festivals etc.
Who else will do these for our children and for generations to come?
I see the Covid-19 pandemic as a wake-up call for us to take a deeper look at ourselves and what is important, not the superficial stuff. The real you.
Ask yourself: am I well? Our wellness and our wellbeing are so interconnected within our body; fitness, physical health, emotional, psychological and social wellbeing.
Winter is a time when our wellness or fitness is tested — especially for us Pasifika. The cold, the fog all day and no sunshine, stuck at home in the heavy frost and snow — but thank God there are rugby and winter sports to brighten our days as we socialise with other parents, players and supporters.
If you live on your own, unless you are a sociable person and you find it easy to make friends, then the winter can be a very sad time.
So, create your own support systems. If you have no family nearby, choose your own friends — it’s better than being landed with irritating and annoying relatives or friends of family you have to put up with.
In our Pasifika cultures family and traditional kin are the relationships that are most important to us — fanau.
Call the family or the friend that is closest to you. The one that you can say anything to and share whatever you are facing with and they will not judge or think less of you. I am sure these people are angels sent especially to this earth for you.
Accept that you are sad. Choose what will make you happy and do it.
Respect is a big part of Pasifika culture. I believe that if you show respect to another person it is a sign that you also respect yourself.
Respect will make the difference in how you will be accepted in any culture.
Respect and honour, love and friendship.