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
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
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.