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A new landmark for Pasifika takes shape in Hamilton

Praneeta Mahajan

Praneeta Mahajan

Hamilton, 5 December 2022

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the K’aute Pacifika Community Hub, Hamilton (INL Photo by Praneeta Mahajan)

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern visited K’aute Pasifika’s new community hub, ready for opening in January 2023.

The first look of the fale-styled building is welcoming, and the work that has gone into bringing the vision to life is both admirable and evident.

K’aute Pasifika Trust Chief Executive Leaupepe Rachel Karalus welcomed the attendees and expressed her joy watching “the physical manifestation of a 23-year-long dream.”

Ms Ardern expressed her happiness to be with the community members in Hamilton. She said that the pacific community support services have been vital in covid management and saved numerous lives.

“Community is always the best support for all individuals. For us as a government, it has reinforced what we already know about how important it is to invest in trusted models of contracting in the community,” she said.

Ms Ardern toured the early learning centre as well as the community hub, which looked ready to witness many good times ahead.

Fale-styled Community Hall is taking shape (INL Photo by Praneeta Mahajan)

Dynamic Pasifika

She shared the vision of K’aute Pasifika, which is to have a dynamic, healthy, strong, educated, collaborative, and sustainable Pacific community.

She said that the project has been planned for over two decades to support the growing Pacific population in the Waikato, which is estimated to be more than 21,000 in the Waikato region.

Located in the central part of Hamilton city, on the corner of Mill Street and Seddon Road, the hub will be across the road from FMG Stadium, making it a new landmark on the city’s landscape.

Once completed, the hub will include a fale-style community space, a range of well-being and support services such as a GP and pharmacy, an early learning and childcare facility, as well as social, employment and housing services.

There would be a layered well-being model in place, to ensure that the various services and facilities stay interconnected and benefit from each other instead of functioning in isolation.

K’aute Pacifika Chief Executive Leaupepe Rachel Karalus speaking (INL Photo by Praneeta Mahajan)

The fale will have space for more than 650 people standing and will be used for programmes and community and cultural events.

“The whole village concept is the first of its kind in New Zealand. What we want is that the different components, like the fale, the childcare and wellbeing facilities, to speak with each other, to be interconnected,” Rachel Karalus said.

Her mother, K’aute Pasifika Founder and former Chief Executive Peta Karalus had the vision for this hub as she wanted not just to see the values of the Pasifika community survive but also thrive under a united roof while sharing their values and traditions with all cultures.

A positive picture

The idea of elders in the community imparting language skills, activities like music and weaving and engaging with the young ones brought a smile to everyone’s faces and painted a positive picture of times to come.

Rachel Karalus said, “Every time the Pacific community came together, they were strongly asking for a space to belong. We are happy that now we have the space for our community. The hub will be a place to belong, a place where people from all walks of life and backgrounds can receive support to improve their wellbeing.”

It is due to open next month, in time for the return of the HSBC New Zealand Sevens tournament, which will have a number of teams from the Pacific participating.

An Artist’s impression of the Community Village (Photo Supplied)

Government support

Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash took the opportunity to announce an extra $600,000 in Government support to help K’aute Pasifika cope with budget overruns resulting from the current Covid-affected operating environment.

K’aute Pasifika Village Subcommittee Chairperson Lale Ieremia said that consideration was being given to two similar hubs in the South and North Waikato.

He said that since New Zealand is a part of the Pacific, the hub would offer well-being services for all, delivered in the Pacifica way.

He said that with all growth being centred around Hamilton, including the Inland port, expressway and the Tauranga connection, Pasifika people were looking to migrate to Waikato from Auckland to follow businesses shifting to the region.

Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink correspondent based in Hamilton.

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