Embracing our Pacific identity

Embracing our Pacific identity

There is no denying it: in New Zealand, we are closely linked with those living in our neighbouring Pacific island nations.

In fact, more than 20 percent of those living in New Zealand identify as either Māori or Pacific Islanders.

“New Zealand is a Pacific country, linked by history, culture, politics, and demographics. Decisions, actions and events in New Zealand have greater consequence and meaning for the Pacific than any other region.” - New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

As one of the more prosperous countries in the region, we believe that New Zealand has a special role to play in the Pacific, and that we, as a country, should be taking stronger actions to improve the lives of our neighbours.

As an organisation, ChildFund New Zealand understands and recognises the Pacific as a priority area for our work.

That’s why, in addition to the programmes we’re implementing in Africa and Asia, we have taken some important steps to expand our impact in the Pacific. More specifically, we are beginning to see positive impact in the lives of women, youth and children in Kiribati, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.

Over time, ChildFund New Zealand will continue to grow and change, as will the role we play alongside children, youth and families in the Pacific.

Only when everyone does their part, will the work be complete. Ma whero ma pango ka oti ai te mahi

Building family resilience in Betio, Kiribati

The nation of Kiribati may be unfamiliar to many of our supporters. Despite covering more than 3.5 million square kilometres of the Pacific, this collection of atolls and coral islands is home to just over 116,000 people.

Betio (pronounced Besso) is a township on the main island atoll, South Tarawa, where more than half of the country’s population lives. Here, more than 430 families are cramped onto a small area of land with a density about 10 times that of Auckland.

Betio is a new home for many from the outer islands who are looking for more opportunities to gain employment and a future for their children. Unfortunately, Betio is unequipped to cope.

Last year, ChildFund began implementing a programme of activities aimed at building family resilience and ensuring their children are healthy and young people receive quality education in Betio.

The project is primarily focused on young people, many of whom have had a fractured or incomplete schooling and are unemployed and disengaged from their community. Working with the local technical college, ChildFund has supported a variety of re-entry pathways into formal education, as well as basic literacy and numeracy training.

In 2019, young people are waiting with excitement for building to start on a Youth Learning Centre they have designed.

Helping victims of violence in Papua New Guinea

Regina was 14 years old when she was sexually abused by a man in his 50s. He lured her with an equivalent of $215 to a hotel room in Port Moresby. She needed the money to make ends meet and desperately wanted to finish school.

The abuse continued on the weekends for three years. Each time, Regina was given money and made to promise she would not tell anyone. Her school grades dropped, and she lost her appetite and her confidence. Eventually, she lost hope.

It was only when staff from ChildFund’s 1-Tok Kaunselin Helpim Lain and Rights Respect and Resilience project visited her school that things changed. The staff encouraged students to call the helpline if they encountered any violence, negligence or any form of abuse in their life.

For the first time in a long time, Regina felt a glimmer of hope. After the visit, she called the hotline. A counsellor named Joe answered, and provided confidential crisis counselling.

After Regina’s initial call, Joe checked on Regina every week and provided more counselling. He encouraged her to report the matter to police and to change her sim card so the perpetrator could no longer reach her.

Today, Regina is focused on finishing her studies and she is hopeful about her future.

Need someone to talk to?

In Papua New Guinea: Call (toll-free) +675 7150 8000 In New Zealand: Lifeline (24/7): 0800 543 354 Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 Youthline (24/7): 0800 376 633 Call or text (24/7): 1737 Kidsline (24/7): 0800 543 754