Pacifika trailblazing leader farewelled
Hundreds of people farewelled a trailblazing Pacific women's leader in Auckland last week.
Hundreds of people farewelled a trailblazing Pacific women's leader in Auckland last week. (Weds 15th)
98 year old Eleitino Edwina Diana Patricia Walker, known to many as Paddy, founded the Pacific women's organisation P.A.C.I.F.I.C.A and became its first president in 1976.
She was a mother, the first Auckland city councillor of Pacific descent, an author of children's books and songs, and an advocate for Pasifika people.
MTT compiled this report.
DR DIANE MARA: Paddy was a visionary, 1976, she pulled together a group of Pacific women, and some of us didn't know each other, and formed us into a group with a vision to encourage all Pacific women to contribute to the wider community.
Diane Mara, one of the founding members of P.A.C.I.F.I.C.A, the national non government organisation for Pacific women living in Aotearoa New Zealand, speaking there about her close friend Paddy Walker. Dr Mara says it was a privilege to have known Paddy who was brave and an inspiration and had always encouraged Pacific women to step forward.
DR DIANE MARA: When you are forming an organisation there's always ups and downs and tensions, and bringing together people from different Pacific backgrounds, we had to learn about each other, we had to learn about how we did things, because we are not all the same, and we had different languages and things like that so it was exciting.
Dr Mara says the group did face some challenges in those early days.
DR DIANE MARA: There was this big influx of Pacific people to NZ in the early 70s, that in the subsequent decades become less and less but very much that time there was housing, employment, health. Those sorts of things where women didn't even know where to go and they probably couldn't express themselves, so we were actually one of the first, I guess stops for a number of women in the community.
Dr Mara says Paddy was also keen for Pacifica to work along side the Maori Women's Welfare league, and a close friendship between the two groups continues to this day. She says the PACIFICA organisation has had it ups and downs but the founding spirit is still there.
DR DIANE MARA: We are proud of being Pacific women, we can do things, we are resourceful, resilient, and not only that, we care about families and our communities, and it's still there and that's the brilliant.
Pacifika's current president, Caren Rangi, says a new generation of Pacific women are also on board.
CAREN RANGI: We have a young PACIFICA representative sitting on our National executive, Nikki Brigghouse, and she has group of other young women within Pacifica and we've said to them, you tell us how you best think support you.
Caren Rangi says the organisation has retained its relevancy over the years because it provides a place for women to talk about their concerns.
CAREN RANGI:The socio economic status of our families in NZ, which overall is not great, domestic violence, is an issue we've been talking about, early childhood education, those are three areas for us that are priority at the moment.
Daniela Maoate-Cox is a journalist covering the Pacific for Radio New Zealand International. She says being part of PACIFICA has helped her connect with her Cook Islands and Pacific heritage.
DANIELA MAOATE-COX: Being surrounded by these strong female leaders really inspires and re-energises to me to explore my Pacific heritage, and then to succeed in what I do, so that I can keep up with the high standard that has already been set by these woman who are coming before me.
PACIFICA includes women of all faiths, ethnicities and backgrounds and has branches throughout New Zealand from Whangarei to Invercargill.
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