August 3, 2023

It takes a village: Movement in Pasifika churches

Our village is the place where we walk together, standing shoulder to shoulder through the ebbs and flows of life. When we find our village, we have a place to belong, a place of refuge, identity, and strength which nurtures our spirit, soul, and body.

In communities across the Pacific, the village is the heart of society. It’s a place where education, health, work, and the church are intricate threads in the rich tapestry of daily life.

Since the migration to Aotearoa New Zealand for many of our Pasifika whānau, churches on our shores now act as the entire village. As well as religious worship, churches provide health and education services, sport, music, and social activities. Culturally centred early learning centres (language nests) and adult education classes regularly operate on church grounds. Healthy Families Waitākere Systems Innovator for Pacific, Ruta Tai, continues.

“As people of the Pacific, it is of great importance that we show our aroha through providing service for others and taking care of our church spaces, but we often put ourselves last. Movement can be one of the things we don’t take part in as much as we’d like, particularly for our tagata matutua (seniors) and tamaiti (children).”

Healthy Families Waitākere is working alongside several churches in West Auckland to explore movement that makes sense within Pacific culture, incorporating core values of service, honour, and faith. Tai continues.

“Pasifika culture and movement go hand-in-hand for our people. Traditional dances such as the siva in Samoa lakalaka in Tonga are mesmerising expressions of storytelling, history, and spirituality, lovingly handed down through generations in honour of our ancestors. These dances are one example of movement that makes sense within our culture and we’re looking forward to exploring what movement means within our West Auckland churches.”

The team are currently exploring what movement might look like for tagata matutua and tamaiti in West Auckland churches, bringing together members from each church to gather perspectives and insights.