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Pacific pride and joy at financial capability graduation

Posted to Retirement Section on 15-12-2017

By Tim Swann, CFFC Manukoloa

rsz efks graduation 1

Sometimes I forget how awesome it is to be Polynesian.

Ours is a history rich in resilience and humour and courage. My ancestors navigated the Pacific, my grandparents left paradise to build a future for their children in a colder land that didn’t understand them. We laugh easily, we forgive quickly, we welcome strangers with open arms and ensure their needs are met before our own.

I know all of this, but sometimes I forget just how magical the Pacific community actually is.

Recently I had the pleasure of supporting Vaka Tautua at a graduation ceremony. The amazing people at EFKS Grey Lynn had just completed an eight-week financial capability programme, and it was time to celebrate their success.

The event was filled with all of the richness that one would expect. Hospitality, welcome smiles, food to feed an army, formal proceedings, humour and a band. I knew it was going to be epic and Grey Lynn EFKS didn’t disappoint.

Often I attend these either alone or with my pule – CFFC's GM for Community Peter Cordtz. We always look forward to these events as they connect us with real people, and we see the results of the hard work that people like Vaka Tautua do on a daily basis.

This time, however, I was accompanied by Sarah Steele, our new marketing and communications manager. She is new to CFFC and wants to build relationships with community stakeholders. If she is going to tell our stories, Pacific stories, she needs to not just meet people, but step into our world and walk in our shoes.

And walk she did… and danced… and ate… and laughed.

It was a pleasure introducing her to taro – a delicacy that she had never seen before.

While we were doing a Siva Samoa a bowl came out and she gladly danced over and put in a donation. (The money did come from my pocket, but that’s not important.)

She learned that if there’s a song playing and someone comes up and bows, that it’s an invitation to dance. And one never declines the chance to dance.

She had a blast. She had never worked with the Pacific community before, never stepped into a Pacific church, never had taro – a concept I’m still struggling with. It was like watching someone on their first trip to the islands and discovering all the magic that is part of having salt in our veins and being part of our sea of islands.

As we left the event, Sarah was literally fizzing, bursting with excitement about how awesome it was to be part of it. And at that moment I was filled with both pride and joy. I was proud of the hospitality that Vaka Tautua and Grey Lynn EFKS had shown my colleague.

Proud of the zest for life that is part of being Pacific, part of being Samoan. And I am so happy that I was able to share a small part of that with someone new.

So as a humble Pacific public servant, I want to say thank you to my community. While we live intersectional lives with complex challenges, there is so much to celebrate and so much to be proud of.

Thank you EFKS Grey Lynn for your gracious hospitality and generous welcome.

Thank you Vui Mark Gosche and the team at Vaka Tautua for your excellence and commitment to Pacific empowerment.

Thank you to all of the social workers, pastors, community advocates and NGO’s, everyone who works tirelessly in this space. Your work is driven by your passion for people, and never underappreciated.

Blessings to you all.


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