Engaging Pacific people with the performing arts not only builds confidence and strengthens the community as a whole but it also enhances peoples’ skills and understanding of their culture, according to Talents of the Pacific Academy (TOPA) Founder and Co-Director Landy Nonoa.
This engagement is the key purpose of the Hamilton-based TOPA, which was established in 2015 to tutor students in early childhood learning, right through to adults.
“Reconnecting and introducing our students to Pacific culture, along with learning the language through song and dance builds a positive mindset to embrace and learn everything Pacific,” Landy says.
Landy joined the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) team, along withMeleane Burgess of Waikato Pacific Business Network Inc; Akarere Henry of South Waikato Pacific Islands Community Services Trust, K’aute Pasifika Trust’s Rachel Karalus; and Mareta Matenga from Hamilton City Council, to help set up the Lalanga Fou Fono - Tulī Takes Flight in Hamilton on March 22.
Seventy students from TOPA also had the opportunity to present a workshop as well as perform, at the fono.
For TOPA, choosing to participate in the fono was an opportunity to learn and listen to what MPP’s future goals are for Pacific in Aotearoa, Landy says.
“It was also an opportunity to show MPP what Waikato is doing in strengthening our multicultural communities – it is important to work together to strengthen our collective vision.”
Much of the work and vision shared by the Ministry is already being implemented in our galueaga, our kaupapa, Landy adds.
“We have a lot more in the pipeline to develop what we have and introduce new ideas with TOPA and how we will add value to the vision and goals for the country.
“We took excitement away from the fono – we are really excited for the direction people are heading.”
Organisations and individuals working together across the board is a must for Pacific in Aotearoa to achieve the goals of Lalanga Fou, Landy says.
“We all have our strengths and expertise in our fields and we can all be a part of producing positive results.”
Already, TOPA is already cultivating the language and culture through its programme taught in schools, strengthening Pacific students and families.
“It also engages non-Pacific communities to learn, engage and build understanding and confidence to be a part of what we love so dearly,” Landy says.
By working together to achieve the Pacific Vision, there are strong ties with communities and networks that can extend the kaupapa across the nation and globally, she adds.
Throughout 2019, MPP is hosting a series of Lalanga Fou Fono - Tulī Takes Flight events around regional Aotearoa.
The key purpose of these fono is to reconnect with Pacific communities in regional Aotearoa to share the vision and priority areas identified in the Lalanga Fou report and highlight opportunities that have risen since the Pacific Aotearoa Summit in November 2018.