Organised by the Palmerston North Interfaith Group, this forum attracted some 60 people to learn what is happening in Pacific Island nations by listening to people who once lived there and now call this region home. Setting the stage, Dr Pala Molisa, Victoria University lecturer from Vanuatu, detailed how the ‘broken’ neo-liberal economic system was responsible for climate change, and the mass extinction of organic life within the oceans, and the deepening inequality between rich and poor in the world.
This said, Locals Brent Barrett, newly elected Green candidate to the City Council, and eighteen year old Hannah Higgison, co-founder of Youth Action Group Manawatu claimed that people from “white middle class New Zealand society” can work with Pasifika people to implement policies that protect the environment, and organise activities like the People’s Climate Change March in November 2015 to inspire social action.
Particularly moving were stories by Massey Pasifika students who made the terrifying effects of superstorms shockingly real to us. Local leader, Ivor Kaisami, MC for the day, began the conversation by describing his experiences over 23 years living and working in Tuvalu, Kiribati, Fiji and the Marshall Islands. A major outcome of the forum was:
A foundation for networking among Pasifika, faith communities and city organisations to foster understanding, advocacy and assistance.
The Palmerston North Interfaith Group is deeply grateful to Caritas for providing their report, Hungry for justice, thirsty for change to forum participants; to Catholic Charities Allocation Group of the Diocese of Palmerston North and the Palmerston North City Environmental Trust for financial support; to Peter MacGillivray and his family for catering themselves a sumptuous Pasifika feast, and to the organising committee: Bob Skipp, Cecily Finucane, Kevin Tate, Stephen Close, Margaret Sinclair-Jones, Peter MacGillivray, Sam Te Tau, Maureen O’Hanlon and Mary Eastham.
Contributed by Mary Eastham