By Kadambari Gladding
A Wallisian performance group from New Caledonia stranded in New Zealand will be without accommodation after today, and concerns are growing for the health of its older members.
When the Ta'ofi Ke Ma'u performance troupe left their home island of Wallis in the Pacific they had no idea that what was going to be a nine-day trip would become a trip with no definite end date in sight.
The group of 25, who travelled to Auckland to perform at the Pasifika Festival on 13 March, have been stranded here since Covid-19 restrictions on gatherings forced its cancellation.
"We were so excited to come here, and so most of us it was the first trip outside of Noumea," said Niuola Petelo, 64, the group's president.
Luckily for them, their local community contact Ena Manuireva organised an impromptu performance for the troupe at the Auckland Museum the same weekend, in lieu of Pasifika.
"It was a good compensation for the cancellation of Pasifika, at least we got to perform with the Tahitians and Hawaiians."
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With one good memory in the bag, the group have since been staying at an Auckland hotel that's been kind enough to extend their stay.
However, that ends today and they're expected to vacate.
"We can't really afford staying at $109 a night."
The troupe are desperately seeking help to find an option while they may have to wait out the lockdown period. With marae closing to visitors, even fewer options are available for the group.
With members aged between 4 years and 66 years, the group is a mix of singers, dancers and musicians.
They've had medical prescriptions transcribed by a French speaking doctor in Auckland providing some relief for buying medication locally.
However, the longer they wait without accommodation, the more concerned they're getting about the older members, some of whom suffer from diabetes and high cholesterol.
"It's almost a fight between meals and medicines right now - the New Zealand costs for medicines that we need is really very high, we're not sure how to manage," Ena Manuireva said.
For now, they're hoping that the weekend provides some certainty and security around their situation in New Zealand, stranded a fair way from home and relying on the hospitality of a country under lockdown.