"We all belong to this village of navigators"

YWCA Auckland Programme Facilitator, Lora Waqabitu,  attended the P.A.C.I.F.I.C.A. Conference 2019 held in Wellington last month. The conference theme was “Growing Pacific Success”. This is her account:

It was a humbling experience to be part of a movement of pacific women trying to better the future for pacific people. The way it was presented to the attending women made it feel like we were one family navigating our way to a brighter future. From having the opening in the Beehive, sitting in the debating chamber, to having our AGM at Victoria University it felt we were following in the steps of those that fight for Pacific people at the highest of levels.

Some of the discussions and statistics I came away with:

  • 21% pay gap in public services for Pacific Women.
  • 8.5% Pacific unemployment, others have dropped while the pacific has increased.
  • 43% of pacific children under 14 now whakapapa to Maori.
  • Pacific people are the least represented immigrant group in tertiary education.
  • According to the New Zealand General Social Survey, life satisfaction for Pacific people is the highest with most scoring a 9 or 10, higher than any other ethnic group.
  • Is there a space for transgender females in our community, and respecting each other in however we come forth?

One of the biggest calls to action was to the youth and that they no longer have an excuse. Women before them have laid strong foundations; leadership hurts and can be lonely but push through it. Other calls to actions included:

  • We need scholarships in public services for pacific people so they can make noise about issues facing them
  • We need strong male voices to help transform the conversations on violence
  • We need safe conversations around sexual and domestic violence
  • Education reform
  • Preserving language and culture.

Overall, the conference was empowering for me as a pacific woman. Watching the mothers and grandmothers speak with passion on topics that still affect us today and then to break out in song and laughter. I am reminded that this space is fierce, but guided by kindness and that we all belong to this village of navigators

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