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Family matters . . . Tai and Hana Halalele and daughters Lesieli (11) and Toeafiafi (9) enjoy the lifestyle of Oamaru. PHOTO: TYSON YOUNG

Hana Halalele is proud to call Oamaru home.

Originally from Invercargill, Mrs Halalele is a New Zealander born into a Samoan family.

When she was a child, her family moved to Oamaru, and at that time, they were one of the few Pasifika families to live in the town.

“When we first arrived here, there was probably only a handful of Pasifika families. Those were the pioneer families.”

It was those families who formed the Oamaru Pacific Island Community Group.

Mrs Halalele become involved with it when she attended primary school.

Years later, the number of Pasifika families living in Oamaru had grown significantly, she said.

“It’s such a diverse community now,” she said.

“It’s even more important that we can understand people and work with each other.”

Earlier this year, she was elected president of the group.

It was the employment opportunities and the lifestyle of Oamaru that appealed most to Pasifika families, she said, adding that she and her husband, Tai, enjoyed raising their children in the town.

Mrs Halalele said she felt driven to help members of the Pasifika community, whether that was something simple like helping children with their schoolwork or raising awareness of Pasifika health issues.

“I love the community – that’s probably the biggest thing that I’m passionate about.”

It was important that Pasifika families maintained their identity, she said.