Waikato-based Pacific Island community trust, K’aute Pasifika, has unveiled its new community hub with a celebration including a blessing, speeches, community performances and food.
Hamilton City Council says the opening is a huge milestone for the Pacific community, with the advocacy, planning and negotiation for the project taking place over many years.
After an early morning blessing and burial of the Mauri stone, gifted to K’aute Pasifika by mana whenua, K’aute Pasifika CEO, Leaupepe Rachel Karalus spoke, supported by her mother and K’aute Pasifika matriarch Leaupepe Peta Karalus.
She welcomed visitors to the opening of the fale and hub, speaking to the realisation of the community group’s 25-year dream.
“What we are celebrating today is literally the physical manifestation of a community aspiration that was conceived by the Pacific communities that came together in Kirikiriroa 24 plus years ago,” she said.
“For us as a Pacific community, what we can take from today and the K’aute Pasifika Village is that we are visible, we have been seen. We have a voice, we have been heard, and we are valued, we have undoubtedly been valued.”
Hamilton Mayor, Paula Southgate also attended the opening, and said the building will be a place that will help all those who live in Hamilton to thrive.
“The magnificence and scale of this stunning 600-person fale is cause enough for celebration. However, the full significance of what this village represents extends far beyond its walls. It will serve not only more than 20,000 Pacific people currently living in the Waikato region, but also the wider community,” said Mayor Southgate.
“Congratulations to K’aute Pasifika and to all involved, who had the aspiration and vision for over 20 years to pursue a pan-Pacific village here in Hamilton Kirikiriroa – for the people, by the people, and the first of its kind in New Zealand.
“There is no doubt of the tremendous positive impact this village will have on the lives of the whole community, and for many generations yet to come, with its impressive and much-needed breadth of services.”
The Pan Pasifika Community Hub project, three years in the making, is a New Zealand-first and aims to create a place of healing, learning and support for all community members who wish to access its services.
The hub will also breathe life into a large part of the city’s West Town Belt – a 54ha network of parks and gully on the fringe of central Hamilton, Council said in a statement.