Nelson Tasman Pasifika Community Trust – Empowering from Within

Nelson Tasman Pasifika Community Trust (NTPCT) has a mission “to provide, support and strengthen the Nelson Tasman Pasifika Community to grow, achieve and prosper”. From its roots as a wholly volunteer-led organisation, it has grown and developed into a fully-fledged community service provider.

“Our biggest achievement is moving from being a voluntary organisation which was 20 years old with lots of heart but no capability, through to becoming a service provider. We started in late 2015 with one contract and now we have programmes delivering in the areas of education, health, social services, community development, youth and, most importantly, advocacy for our people,” says Jennifer Beatson, General Manager – Nelson Tasman Pasifika Community Trust.

NTPCT is passionate about community development and believes that the only long-term solutions are those that are owned by the community members themselves. The Faamalosi Aiga Project and the Malohi Kainga Programme are wonderful examples of this approach in action. Developed in the most culturally appropriate way possible, these initiatives have been born as a result of collaboration between NTPCT, local Samoan and Tongan communities, and Empowerment Trust (formerly Kidpower Teenpower Fullpower Trust), which provided crucial support at the outset. Empowerment Trust acted as an umbrella organisation for a period and generously allowed NTCPT to utilise its existing programme, reworking it so that it was relevant to the communities and their cultures.

The initiatives not only teach children about safety, they also prompt parents and families to think about what safety for children means. At the end of the programme, children and young people are equipped with valuable skills in assessing a situation for risk and understanding the best course of action to take.

In mid-2018, the initiatives were independently evaluated by Dr Lanuola Asiasiga from the SHORE & Whariki Research Centre. The research found that “the Faamalosi mo Aiga and Malohi Kainga are projects that are working with their communities to make a difference”. It recognised that “Faamalosi mo Aiga and Malohi Kainga are:

  • Discussing and building knowledge on their own cultural beliefs and values in relation to different cultures’ beliefs and values
  • Engaging their communities in learning about how to keep children safe
  • Giving children the knowledge and skills on how to stay safe
  • Helping their communities to recognise unsafe situations
  • Starting to change cultural norms
  • Encouraging children to speak out
  • Supporting adults to listen to children.

NTPCT is not resting on its laurels. It’s keen to help other groups thrive alongside its own community and it’s looking at ways in which it can support its adult population too.
“We are looking at extending our programme to include Faamalosi Aiga for Adults – that is, safety for adults. We have also shared our learnings with a refugee community group who are just starting to do something similar,” says Jennifer.
The journey hasn’t been without its challenges of course, and Jennifer is keen to recognise those who have partnered with NTPCT:

“Starting an organisation from nothing is hard and you have to partner with others to get support. Finding the right support was absolutely key to our success. Apart from J R McKenzie Trust, the other organisation was Empowerment Trust. Without the support of these two, we would not be as successful as we are.”

NTPCT’s vision is to be “a strong united organisation which will represent the needs and goals of our Pasifika Community working in response to and alongside the community, advocating for community and culture”.
It seems like NTPCT is well on its way to achieving this vision as it approaches its work with respect, sensitivity and an ambition to serve the Pasifika community in the best way possible.