16 Aug 2018

'The South Island does not stop in Christchurch'

7:32 pm on 16 August 2018

There needs to be more opportunities for smaller Pasifika communities, a Dunedin councillor says.

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Photo: Supplied.

Mahuki - Te Papa Museum's innovation hub for developing digital businesses in culture and heritage sectors - was in Dunedin for a two-day workshop. It was the first time it had visited the southern city.

Dunedin councillor Marie Laufiso, who was elected the city's first Pasifika councillor in 2016, said the workshop showed the creativity of Pasifika people in the south.

"[There was] a hope to weave more deeply the experiences and knowledge of our ancestors into 21st Century technology and models."

The Pasifika population of Dunedin was just under 3000 people at the 2013 census - about three percent of the Dunedin population.

Ms Laufiso said it was often difficult to get resources for the population who were overshadowed by the needs of bigger Pasifika communities in main centres.

"The South Island does not stop in Christchurch and you have to challenge everyone to rethink your population-based funding because the need here in the south are just as great as they are in Otara or Porirua or Māngere or Manukau."

"We've got some real areas of poverty and we want greater access to those services and resources."

Twenty-two people took part in Mahuki, which focused on developing the participants' social enterprise or business ideas.

Melissa Lama, a 25-year-old Tongan mother of two, was there. She is studying politics and public health at Otago University.

She wanted to find a way to ease access to government services for Pasifika people after seeing the difficulties her mother faced trying access immigration and other social services.

"In order to remove that barrier, we've got to think about how we can move with the times but also be culturally aware and sensitive to some of their limits."

Ms Lama has begun researching where the communication breakdowns occurred.

Dunedin City Council held its first Pasifika hui in April to consult on the long-term plan.

Ms Laufiso said she wanted to see the Ministry for Pacific Peoples set up offices in Dunedin and Invercargill.

In a statement, Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio said while he could not comment on operational matters, he recognised that Pasifika people in the rural areas was growing, particularly in Dunedin and Invercargill.

He plans to meet with communities in Invercargill, Oamaru and Dunedin during a visit for the upcoming Murihiku Polyfest at the end of the month.

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