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Piripo Elisaia recognised for services to Pacific community

Mama Piripo Elisaia recognised for services to the Pacific community in Queens Birthday Honours

Tuesday 3 June 2014

77 year-old Pacific Homecare co-founder Piripo Elisaia received a Queens Service Medal over the weekend, for services to the Pacific community in the 2014 Queens Birthday Honours.

Piripo Elisaia (commonly known as Mama Pi) helped found Pacific Homecare in the 1980s after she was approached by her cousin and friend Matarena George. Matarena was asked by a local councillor to put forward an application to Government to run a homecare centre for Pacific people in Otara.

Amid competition for the contract from other Pacific organisations, they won the contract and Kuki Airani Aronga Pakari Trust was founded, changing its name to the Pacific Island Homecare Services Trust in 1995 before its recent name change.

Initially raising funds by making and selling tivaivai (Cook Island bedspreads), the group grew as they responded to the demand of the diverse Pacific cultures, elderly and disabled in the Counties Manukau region.

Pacific Homecare Chief Executive Hamish Crooks says everyone at the organisation is very proud of Mama Pi, who has worked tirelessly in the South Auckland Pacific community for the past 25 years.
“It is a very special moment for her, her family and all of us … Mama Pi is very humble, hardworking, and a quiet but assertive servant leader,” he says.

“Along with the late Mama Matalena George, Mama Pi started Pacific Homecare to serve Pacific elderly people with health needs and then to go onwards to serve Pacific people who required disability support services.

“She has not only served these communities but also her Cook Islands community through her
leadership in her church, the Pukapuka community as well as in earlier years as a member of the PACIFICA women’s organisation.”

Mama Pi is still highly visible in the community, supporting her church, the Pukapuka and Cook Islands community and the Pacific Homecare Fia Ola drop-in centre for Pacific elderly.

“There is no doubt that Mama’s faith and belief in God and in serving other people is a true testament to her love for others that is unconditional,” says Hamish.

“She’s an example for others in our sector and communities to follow.”


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