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Culture is no excuse for abuse, culture is the solution

A national fono (gathering) will highlight family violence prevention in New Zealand by delving into culturally responsive ways for Pacific communities to address the serious issue and move forward.

The Nga Vaka o Kāiga Tapu: Pathways to Wellbeing fono, to be held at the Waipuna Hotel in Auckland on 22 February, will provide a platform for Pacific people to talanoa (discuss) the important role that culture plays in preventing family violence in Pacific communities and how principles and core values in the different Pasifika cultures can protect as well as restore wellbeing to Pacific individuals, families and communities.

Research shows Pacific people are less likely to report instances of family violence despite Pacific young people being three times more likely to be exposed to family violence. Reasons for not going to Police to report instances include not wanting to bring shame on their family, fear of any repercussions, cultural barriers around language, and feeling like they will not be treated fairly if they do so.

The Nga Vaka o Kāiga Tapu frameworks, which is part of the Pasefika Proud campaign and delivered by Alliance Community Initiatives Trust, is a strengths-based approach to addressing family violence. It uses clear, consistent messaging around building strong families through culturally appropriate methods. There are eight ethnic specific programmes for Pacific people from Tonga, Samoa, Cook Islands, Niue, Fiji, Tuvalu, Tokelau, Kiribati. The programmes provide participants with the cultural values and concepts to help achieve family wellbeing, especially when dealing with family violence.

Nga Vaka o Kāiga Tapu Cultural Lead, Fa’amatuainu Tino Pereira says we know first-hand the value of the Nga Vaka frameworks and have seen how important it is to look for culturally appropriate responses to family violence.

“Often our perpetrators have used culture as an excuse to commit violence against women and children but by unpacking our cultures our communities have found solutions which are sustainable and effective – that’s how Nga Vaka came about as a direct response from our communities.”

“Nga Vaka is an authentic and genuine community response, developed and run by the community. The cultural frameworks are a solution to re-establishing positive relationships within Pacific families”, says Fa’amatuainu.

Alliance Community Initiatives Trust (ACIT) CE, Rachel Enosa says the fono is an opportunity to bring together key cultural leaders, experts and practitioners to look at how cultural frameworks can influence positive change and improve outcomes for children and families.

The fono will be opened by the Minister for Social Development, the Hon Carmel Sepuloni and a pre-fono breakfast session will be led by Minister for Pacific Peoples, Hon Aupito Tofae Su’a William Sio.

The keynote speakers will contribute to the discussions around Pacific family violence prevention with presentations from Maiava Iulai Toma, the current Ombudsman for Samoa. He recently led the Pacific’s first national public inquiry into Family Violence, which identified family violence as a priority human rights concern and determined that its complex nature meant a National Public Inquiry should occur.

The other keynote speaker is Professor Konai Helu Thaman from the University of the South Pacific in Fiji. She has researched and published widely in the areas of curriculum, teacher education, indigenous education, women and university management, and more recently Pacific research frameworks and education for sustainable development. Professor Thaman will be draw on her expertise and research into culture, cultural structures and how these areas contribute to positive relations within families.

A dinner will follow the one-day event with special guest, MP Jan Logie, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for sexual and domestic violence issues.

At the conclusion, a paper will be collated and the findings presented to the Government with feedback and recommendations on moving forward.

For more information Sandra Kailahi, Alliance Community Initiatives Trust Strategic Communications Manager 021 441 443 or Sandra.k@acit.org.nz

For more details on the Nga Vaka o Kaiga Tapu frameworks visit www.ngavaka.nz

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