New Zealand Pacific communities ‘living with financial strain' of COVID-19

COVID-19 lockdowns have come and gone, but Pacific communities are still living with the financial strain they create.

That was the message that community leaders heard at last week's meeting of the Pacific Leadership Forum in Auckland.

“It came through loud and clear that our people are feeling the impact of losing jobs and reduced hours at work," says Forum Chairman, Teleiai Edwin Puni.

“There is a huge social concern in the community.”

It was the first time in 15 months that the Forum's 36 community representatives were able to gather and discuss issues that affect Pacific people. ​

Among the other topics that came up were the Dawn Raids apology. 

Concerns were raised by community leaders at the Forum about the form of the apology, and in particular, about the possible use of a Samoan ifoga. 

Some of Tongan community leaders told the Forum that it would not be culturally appropriate for an apology to be delivered as a Samoan ifoga. 

“This is a very sensitive matter and the apology we feel needs to be done in an appropriate way,” says Puni. ​

 “I hope that our community leaders are consulted by the government agencies to ensure that it is appropriate, whatever the apology may be”.

He says the Pacific Leadership Forum is open to helping the government with the apology regarding cultural advice, but it is the government’s responsibility to approach them. 

“This is a conversation we haven’t had with the government, but they need to do it before the apology,” he said     


Photo file RNZ Paciifc  CaptionPacific Leadership Forum Chairman, Teleiai Edwin Puni.