9 Aug 2020

New community Covid-19 fund for Pacific groups released

6:07 pm on 9 August 2020

Funding opportunities for Pacific communities are now available to apply through the Toloa Community Fund and the first ever Community Covid-19 Fund.

The Toloa Community Fund was established five years ago under the Ministry for Pacific Peoples and was set up to support organisations and community groups to promote and deliver Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) activities to Pacific youth.

Research and development of vaccine against coronavirus.


Pacific communities can now apply for the additional funds Budget 2020 provided including the increased funding of $NZ4.9 million over two years for the Toloa STEM Programme that targets increasing community participation.

The Toloa Community Fund will provide grants of up to $50,000 to support organisations and community groups deliver grassroots, emerging and collaboration STEM initiatives that will help grow the number of Pacific people's pursuing careers in these fields.

"The Toloa Kenese Fund will support STEM providers to deliver targeted Pacific programmes and workshops with primary, intermediate, and secondary school students and their parents," said Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio.

"I want Pacific communities to collectively embrace STEM career pathways as the key that will open up doors for more prosperous and thriving Pacific families."

Sio said the Ministry would be looking to introduce the arts into the Toloa STEM programme.

No caption

Photo: RNZ Pacific / Sela Jane Hopgood

"I want Pacific peoples to own the digital economy, and really embrace STEM subjects and career pathways, and I think adding the Arts, which is one of our strengths will ensure more Pacific young people embrace STEM.

He said he thought it would enable more Pasifika to be creative and innovative in the digital world.

"Adding Arts into the STEM programme is a natural aspiration for Pacific peoples because it allows us to lay a cultural lens and approach over all things technological and scientific.

Aupito said bringing people and relationships into the would undoubtedly attract more Pacific youth as well as Pacific thinking and innovation into the sector.

"There is evidence that shows that adding the arts to STEM has the potential to unlock the science, technology and innovation potential of Pacific Indigenous knowledge, resources and people for the environmental, economic, social and cultural benefit of Pacific peoples and communities in New Zealand."

The Community Covid-19 Fund supports Pacific communities and groups who are leading and driving the response and recovery from the impacts of Covid-19.

There will be a total of $3 million Community Covid-19 Fund over two years that will target supporting churches and volunteer groups to develop plans for the economic recovery and rebuild of Pacific families.

Labour's spokesperson for Pacific Island's people and MP for Mangere, Aupito William Sio

Labour's spokesperson for Pacific Island's people and MP for Mangere, Aupito William Sio Photo: RNZ Pacific/Sela Hopgood

"I have impressed upon Pacific groups during my nation-wide online talanoa sessions that the Government will support Pacific peoples to develop their community plans and strategies for their economic recovery and rebuild, and these grants will assist with that," Aupito said.

"Every community group, or region talked about their specific needs relevant to their communities or region, which included day-today food needs, housing and cost pressures, employment security and future needs, and the issues around health and educational needs.

Aupito said some groups identified issues related people stuck in New Zealand due to border closures, and the challenges that imposed on their families.

"Others from the regions shared their empathy with RSE workers who were losing their savings and earnings because of the cost of accommodation and other day-to-day needs while they awaited repatriation flights, and not being able to earn due to the winter season.

"Many of these groups had identified initiatives/programmes they had developed and were already implementing because of the need and demand due to the Covid-19 lockdown, which now would benefit from government support."

The Community Covid-19 fund will also provide targeted support with grants of up to $50,000 for Pacific groups who are leading and driving their own solutions to respond and recover from the impacts of Covid-19.

Applications close 28 August.