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SAUTU – Empowering Pasifika Communities: A Celebration of Success and Support

The SAUTU event, a joyful celebration of Pasifika culture, was held on 27 April at the Dowse Museum in Lower Hutt, Wellington. The event was hosted by Your Way | Kia Roha to commemorate two key Pasifika initiatives: vAsifika and Tupu Aotearoa.

Left to right: Theresa Rorason, April Johnson, May Seager, William Tiumalu, Taima Fagaloa, Megan Thomas
Left to right: Theresa Rorason, April Johnson, May Seager, William Tiumalu, Taima Fagaloa, Megan Thomas

vAsifika, a collaboration between Mila’s Books, Te Pou and Your Way | Kia Roha, featured 12 stories of Pasifika autism journeys, while Tupu Aotearoa, a Ministry for Pacific Peoples funded initiative, supports tāngata Pasifika people with disabilities in education, employment, and training.

The SAUTU celebration brought together 50 Pasifika people, stakeholders, partners, and Your Way | Kia Roha staff. The MC for the event, Merina Tonise, a member of the National Disability and Local Disability Leadership Groups, brought an infectious energy and laughter to the stage, making visitors feel welcome and connected in the true Pasifika way.

Speaker Merina Tonise
Speaker: MC Merina Tonise

The guest speakers included Mila’s Books author and director Dahlia Malaeulu, and Altogether Autism national manager Catherine Trezona, both of whom were interviewed by Pacific Network Media 531PI radio. Tupu Aotearoa national manager Theresa Rorason, along with April Johnson, Community national manager, and William Tiumalu, a Tupu Aotearoa tāngata Pasifika, shared how important it was for Pasifika people with disabilities to seek support and get the help they need.

Deputy chief executive of the Ministry of Whaikaha, Brian Coffey, and Porirua community advocate and member of the Tupu Aotearoa co-design leadership team, Lorna Kanavatoa, provided community responses to the event.

Speaker: Lorna Kanavatoa
Speaker: Lorna Kanavatoa

The event concluded with a traditional Pasifika meal blessed by Rev Kalo Kaisa, followed by entertainment provided by the Laura Fergusson kapa haka group. Overall, the SAUTU celebration was a wonderful occasion that brought together Pasifika people, partners, and supporters to celebrate the richness of Pasifika culture and support important initiatives that benefit the community.