9 August 2019
The inaugural forum for Pacific Island personnel serving in the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) was held at Devonport Naval Base today.
More than 80 people, comprising past and current Pacific Island serving personnel, civilian staff, managers and RNZN senior leadership filled the sports pavilion as the RNZN Pacific Island Community Group announced its purpose and vision, accompanied by Pasifika food and song.
Event organiser Petty Officer Emma Songivalu said the aim of the group was to empower each other and develop relationships.
“Using the RNZN as a foundation, the community’s values are the woven mat that lays over the foundation,” Petty Officer Songivalu said.
“We want to create a wider community that is recognised for the value they bring as Pacific people within the Navy.
“We can also help commanders have a greater understanding and awareness of the Pacific Island cultural values, customs, beliefs and network support systems.”
Currently 4.3 per cent of the New Zealand Defence Force identified as Pasifika, she said.
“We want that to increase. We think there’s lots more we can do to connect with more talented young Pasifika people to show them a military career is a great option, that they’re very welcome, and that their culture, skills and experience are appreciated.”