Oamaru’s Pasifika community had to be creative to celebrate the traditional day of church and family amid the Covid-19 lockdown yesterday.
Masses were streamed online, meals were prepared, and Pasifika families took the chance to spend time together, Waitaki Tongan Community president Tuavale Misiloi said.
“Even though families are on lockdown, they can still pray and have church services at their homes,” she said.
“People are happy to be in their houses with their families — praying together or those people who drink kava together they can do it — normal things.”
The Pasifika communities were following the guidelines for lockdown closely, Mrs Misiloi said.
Oamaru Pacific Island Community Group president Hana Halalele said times were tough and uncertain for everyone, which made keeping up traditions important.
“It’s just about being a wee bit creative,” Mrs Halalele said.
“Church isn’t just a building, it’s something bigger than that.”
Making sure the message about the lockdown was delivered in the various languages spoken in Waitaki last week was a challenge, Mrs Halalele said.
“Everything was changing so fast,” she said.
“We targeted all the presidents of the different ethnic-specific community groups, and did most of the messaging through those avenues.”
Having a tight-knit Pasifika community in North Otago helped reach those who did not have access to the internet or social media, she said.
“We all work really closely here . . . so it was a blessing we could do that really quickly.
“If not for that it could have been really different.”
For many Pasifika families, it had been a big change to isolate themselves, Mrs Halalele said.
“The bubble thing is really difficult.
“Our families are not just our immediate families, it includes other extended family members.
“They might not live in the same house but they catch up every day.
“It’s quite a challenge to cut that bubble right down … It’s time to be creative about the way we stay in touch.”