SHARE
Forum leaders . . . Atela Asi, Ofa Boyle, Tu'a Misiloi, Mele Sikei and Savea Malolo Fifita are advocates for the Pasifika community. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

The Covid-19 fallout is resulting in an increase in Pasifika families in need, Whanau Ora navigator Lusi Fifita says.

That was one of Miss Fifita’s observations from a talanoa, or open forum, held in Oamaru last week with representatives from national social services provider Pasifika Futures.

It was a chance for families in the South to discuss issues they were facing post-lockdown.

“It was just about getting everyone together in one room,” Miss Fifita said.

She was “ultra stoked” that about 140 people attended the forum. She believed it was the first time Pasifika Futures, which funds Whanau Ora locally, had visited Oamaru.

Futures had noticed the economic fallout from Covid-19 had been felt most by vulnerable families, in particular those who had recently moved to New Zealand, Miss Fifita said.

That was the same in Oamaru, she said. The meat processing off-season meant it was a tough time financially for Pasifika families, and those who had recently arrived in New Zealand often did not have established support networks.

Some of the main issues raised at last week’s forum were financial struggles and a desire to invest more in Pasifika youth initiatives, particularly targeting new migrants, Miss Fifita said.

Whanau Ora works as a navigation service, liaising with support groups.

As a Whanau Ora navigator, Miss Fifita works with families to identify their specific needs and aspirations, then helps identify services, education providers or employment and business opportunities for them.

For some Pasifika, especially those who were not very comfortable speaking English, it could be difficult to access the right services, she said.

“We point people in the right direction, and make sure they get the help they need.”