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Bridging the gap in Te Tai Tokerau

Bridging the gap in Te Tai Tokerau

  • 13 Mar 2019
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Set up to bridge the gap between island roots and New Zealand-born Pacific peoples, Fale Pasifika has assisted many Pacific people who have settled into the region.

On March 11, the Whangarei-based not-for-profit organisation was recognised as one of this year’s Toloa Community Fund recipients, at the Auckland Awards ceremony at Manukau.

Fale Pasifika Manager May Seager says the organisation was established over 30 years ago, with the mission of “supporting and guiding Pasifika people to a positive and prosperous future”.

“We provide services specific to Pacific communities, and support our communities by advocating for and representing them, holding activities and providing a space for them for meetings and community gatherings,” May says.

The Toloa Community Fund is a part of the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) Toloa Programme, which encourages Pacific students to pursue studies in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) subjects with the aim of increasing the number of Pacific people employed in STEM careers.

It targets community groups who promote and deliver STEM activities to key Pacific influencer groups, such as parents and church leaders.

In 2019, $100,000 has been allocated for the Toloa Community Fund.

May says Fale Pasifika applied for the funding because it provided an avenue for the organisation to work with youth in Northland.

“It is an area we have wanted to work in and the Toloa Community Fund meant we could sink our teeth into something tangible and positive.”

The funding Fale Pasifika will gain means it can introduce Pacific youth to some interesting and inspiring people in Northland’s communities working in the STEM areas, May adds.  

“We want our youth to have new experiences that will impact on their decisions for their futures.”

The organisation has events planned to help encourage students to take part in STEM subjects and to continue studying these subjects.

In the April school holidays, a two-day workshop for Pacific students, from Year 7-10 is scheduled.

“This age group is still working out what they are interested in, and the workshop will involve people who represent different industries operating in Northland involved in STEM subjects and areas of work. 

“We want to run some fun activities that will engage the students and leave them with, possibly some new ideas, about what they could study in the future.”

Fale Pasifika envisages great things for Pacific people in Northland, a number that is growing quickly, May says.

“At the previous census it was about 5000, and we are certain it will be more following the next.

“Of that number, half are under 25 and we need to re-align ourselves as an organisation, so we can better assist and work with our Pacific peoples.”

Fale Pasifika is currently trying to find new premises because its current building gets flooded a few times a year.

Its long-term goal, however, is to become more sustainable as an organisation, so it is in a better position to support Pacific people in Northland, May says.