Rotorua Trust Re-emerges in Style
Meeting the needs of the Rotorua’s growing Pacific population has seen the Rotorua Pacific Islands Development Charitable Trust, Aere Tai’s Rotorua provider, increase activity in recent years with new services introduced and a stunning Pasifika Fun Day held annually in February as a milestone event for local community.
Held in glorious sunshine and heralding a bigger and better event than ever before, the 2015 Fun Day was supported by the Ministry of Education’s Pasifika PowerUP, an education programme that actively supports Pasifika parents and families to champion their children’s learning and provides academic support for school-aged students, from primary to the end of secondary.
For Mama Lanne Wade, seeing a variety of Pacific food stalls and students performing on the local stage was heartwarming.
“Many of our Pacific whanau in Rotorua are Maori, too, and because the area has such a strong Maori identity, there hasn’t been too many opportunities for them to show pride in their Pacific side,” says Lanne, who is of Tongan descent.
“The Fun Day gave them that chance and they loved it. The buzz from the day already has people looking forward to next year,” (scheduled for March 5, 2016).
Chair Ana Waqairawaqa says the re-emergence of the Trust could not have been better timed. The PowerUP evenings have been so popular the venue had to switch from Sunset Primary School to the Waiariki Institute of Technology, where Ana is the Institute’s Bachelor of Nursing Lecturer.
“We were getting such big turnouts, especially close to exam time, that I had to make a request to Waiariki to use the facility, which they provided at the new health and science building,” she says.
“Getting it at minimal cost and securing volunteers to provide extra tutorials for subjects like maths, science and English has made it possible.”
Rotorua’s Pacific population is increasingly diverse, with the early migrants predominantly from the likes of Samoa, Tokelau and the Cook Islands. Ana arrived from Fiji in 2000 to study on a scholarship.
After graduating she decided to make Rotorua her home, which many fellow Fijians have done since.
“Even in the time I’ve been here, there has been a real growth in numbers and diversity of Pacific people from countries like Kiribati settling in Rotorua,” she says.
Through Aere Tai, the Trust has also secured a Whanau Ora contract aimed at assisting and empowering more than 30 families within the Rotorua region. The aim is to support and lift struggling families into self-dependence. Demand is strong.
“We already have a waiting list,” says Ana.
“The challenge for us isn’t finding the families, but finding qualified and capable navigators who can work with them. These include the likes of registered nurses and social workers. We’re dealing with very sensitive information, so we have to be careful. It takes time because it’s new, but word is getting around.
“It’s challenging, but very worthwhile because Whanau Ora is about helping families to become self-sufficient and contribute to our growing Pacific community.”
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