1 Oct 2018

Pacific women share stories of overcoming adversity

2:38 pm on 1 October 2018

Domestic violence, abortion, depression and suicide are issues often spoken about behind closed doors for many Pacific people.

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Photo: RNZ Pacific

But an event in Wellington, 'I Am Me', saw five women from Pacific, Māori and Filipino backgrounds share their stories of overcoming adversity and their inspirational journeys of healing.

"My heart was filled with so much joy for these women to be able to come together and to be able to share and not feel ashamed or judged," said organiser of the event, Sergeant Loretta Hunt-Tevaga of the New Zealand Police.

She said 'I Am Me' was a platform for women who are suffering in silence, and feeling isolated to let them know they are not alone, and that it is all right to speak out.

At least 100 women attended the event.

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Photo: RNZ Pacific

"The response felt in the room was a sense of relief because the silence has been broken now and that's the feeling I got from the audience."

She said just seeing the responses on some of the faces of those in the audience and the shock of actually hearing women "just speaking about it and sharing from their hearts, their own stories, and not stories that have been told by other people, but their stories", was moving.

"And it's also given [the audience] hope, and I think they saw the vision also and have embraced it, hence the reason why, a lot of women did come up to me at the end of the night asking to be on the committee.

"They want to hold events and especially in one case, they want to hold an event for our young women, youth and our young adults which is absolutely fantastic to here," she said.

"And I wasn't expecting to here as many questions as we received, and I think those barriers were slowly coming down and they [audience] felt a sense of safety and that they could open up."

She said that because there was no judgement and no consequences, the whole purpose of the event was for women to support women and to encourage and equip them with the right tools to help them with their journeys.

Loretta Hunt-Tevaga said there are plans take the event to other parts of the country.

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Photo: RNZ Pacific