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Thursday 19 January 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Culture, National


Cook Islands  represented in Pasifika Village opening in NZ
Pa Marie Ariki at the opening of the K’aute Pasifika Village in Hamilton, Aotearoa. 23011832

Cook Islanders were among 1500 people who attended the momentous opening ceremony of the K’aute Pasifika Village in Aotearoa New Zealand earlier this week.

The first of its kind in Aotearoa, the impressive new K’aute Pasifika Village in the heart of Kirikiriroa will serve Waikato’s 25,000 Pasifika people including Cook Islanders.

Vaka Takitimu paramount chief Pa Marie Ariki and Cook Islands Consulate General to New Zealand, Keu Mataroa were amongst the proud Cook Islanders who were present at the opening.

Cook Islands’ acting high commissioner to New Zealand Piakura Passfield also attended the event.

“It was a proud, historic day for all Pasifika people to see this vision come to fruition … manea e te akaieie tikai,” Pa Marie Ariki said.

Cook Islanders from across Aotearoa joined in the entertainment and celebrations of the K’aute Pasifika Village – “there were exciting highlights and proud Pasifika people,” Pa Marie Ariki said.

K’aute Pasifika Trust works with communities toward a shared vision of improved health and wellbeing.

Cook Islanders wearing their trademark ei katu, attend the K’aute Pasifika Village opening in Aotearoa. K’AUTE PACIFIKA TRUST/23011826

It is a charitable trust based in Hamilton where they provide health, education, employment and social services to Pasifika communities and all other ethnicities who wish to access their services.

The Village will provide Pasifika-focused holistic, wraparound services including an early learning centre, integrated wellbeing services and an iconic fale (meeting house) for community and cultural events.

Chair of K’aute Pasifika Trust, Namalau’ulu Lale Ieremia said the project was delivered through partnership, relationships and a shared vision of a Village for all, focused on Pacific models and practices.

Chief executive officer of K’aute Pasifika Trust, Leaupepe Rachel Karalus acknowledges it has been a long journey and humbling to see the dream come to fruition.

“The Village is the physical manifestation of a community aspiration conceived 24 plus years ago by Pacific communities in Kirikiriroa. It’s a grassroots initiative that delivers on communities’ voices and aspirations. We acknowledge the tenacity and resilience of past and present board members, staff, supporters and everyone involved that has helped bring the vision of the Village to life,” Leaupepe Rachel said.

She paid tribute to her mother, Leaupepe Elisapeta Karalus, who alongside other community members embarked on the journey 24 years ago.

Cook Islands acting high commissioner to New Zealand Piakura Passfield (seventh from left) with Pacific 7s teams captains and executives of K’aute Pacifika Trust. Picture: K’AUTE PACIFIKA TRUST/23011828

Waikato has a growing Pacific population of almost 25,000. Plans are underway for the support and development of similar villages and Pacific housing solutions in the region.

Discussions are also underway to host a potential Pacific rugby sevens tournament in the future.

Positioned in the heart of Kirikiriroa on the West town green belt, the Village was supported by Hamilton City Council who approved leasing of the site to K’aute Pasifika. A fully funded project included support from Kanoa, Trust Waikato, NZ Ministry of Education, NZ Ministry of Social Development, NZ Department of Internal Affairs, Wel Energy Trust and Len Reynolds Trust.

  • Additional reporting by K’aute Pacifika