Bridging the Gap

Working for Non-Government Organisations based in Christchurch and Samoa provides Jeremy Faumuina a useful insight into the struggles of New Zealand-born Samoans compared to those born and raised in the islands.

 

 

Born and raised in Porirua with ties to Lefaga (his father’s village) and Taputimu, American Samoa (mother), Jeremy works for Te Ora Hau, a faith-based network of predominantly Maori and Pacific-focused youth and community development organisations located around the country.

 

He also works in Samoa for the Samoan Victim Support Group, which has set up a trust called Samoan Alofa.

 

Jeremy was raised in Whitby not too far away from Ascot Park where many first generation Pacific families settled in Porirua in the 1970s.

 

“There were hardly any fences, predominantly brown, but as a small kids, everyone seemed to just get on,” he recalls.

 

He couldn’t say the same regarding school. His attendances were sporadic and he admits he lacked drive. What Jeremy didn’t lack was the ability to talk his way out of problematic situations with the teacher.

 

His gift of the gab opened up plenty of job opportunities, including in retail where he managed a number of stores.

 

But before he thought of furthering his work career, Jeremy moved to Christchurch and met up with a pastor looking to start a church in the north of the city.

 

The church had a focus on working in Samoa to advocate for children who have been abused and neglected.

 

It was there Jeremy found his calling.

 

“My wife Shelley and I started looking at the different journeys and cultures of New Zealand-born Samoans and those born in the islands. I wanted to bridge the gap and initially thought it would be tricky because I can’t speak Samoan,” he says.

 

“But they accepted me for what I was because they could see what I was trying to do to care for young people who had been abused.”

 

Through the organisation, Jeremy was able to set up a Christchurch homestay programme for children who are victims of abuse in Samoa and began sending over teams of volunteers to Apia to bring vulnerable youth to New Zealand, away from the abuse they receive, often from family in their own home.

 

“Many parents from the islands are still very traditional in their mindset about how they treat children,” he says.

 

“But the landscape is changing every day. I don’t want to throw away our culture, but take away a culture, an upbringing, gender and age and you’ll still have a kid that needs help. My heart beats out for them.”

 

In order to help the children more, Jeremy is adamant more NGOs need to share their space.

 

“We still work in silos when we’d be better off if we worked collectively,” he says.

 

“Let’s put aside what’s best for us as organisations for what’s best for our vulnerable young ones and families.”


 

About Pasefika Proud

 

 

The Pasefika Proud Campaign addresses violence in Pacific families by using clear, consistent messaging around building strong families, preventing and addressing violence designed, delivered and led by Pacific peoples. For more information go to the Pasefika Proud website.

 

 

 

 

 

29/05/17