`Api Fifita is not ashamed to admit she had tears in her eyes when the Oamaru Pacific Charitable Trust got some very good news recently.
The trust, inside its first year, has been accepted into Lomipeau, the South Island Pacific Providers Collective.
Lomipeau has provided culturally appropriate health and social services to the Pasifika populations of the South Island since it was established in 2012.
“I have to say I did shed a few tears,” Mrs Fifita, the Oamaru trust’s chairwoman and driving force, said.
Being part of the collective means the Oamaru trust will officially become a service provider to Pasifika people in Oamaru.
“It won’t happen straight away but being in the collective gives us a lot of opportunities to look after our people in Oamaru,” Mrs Fifita said.
“The collective are like the big umbrella. Funding from them will allow us to provide for our people in health, education and social services.”
The trust was formed following a direct request for a Pasifika provider from the Tongan, Fijian, Cook Islands, Tuvaluan and Samoan communities in the Waitaki region.
It had relied on its volunteer base but would look at the possibility of employing staff in the future, Mrs Fifita said.
The benefits of joining the collective will be matched by heightened expectations of the trust.
“It comes with a lot of responsibility,” she said.
“But we will step up our game.”
It has been a busy time for the trust.
Mrs Fifita recently returned from a National Fono in Auckland for Pasifika community leaders. It was arranged by the Ministry of Social Development focusing on family violence as well as other social/health services for Pasifika communities.
And, last week, the trust was named runner-up in the health and wellbeing category of the Trustpower Waitaki Community Awards.
EDITOR’S NOTE: “`Api is providing Oamaru’s Pasifika population with some much-needed support. She works tirelessly strengthening relationships and working with others to improve crucial health and social services.” – Melanie Tavendale