Samoans greeted, Kiwi style

01:40, Jan 29 2013
Samoan family
Clockwise from bottom RIGHT. Seila Kennach, Masai Apineru, Segahie Kennach (7 months), Emele Tavila, Josephine Viane 3, Muta'aga Iakopo 4, Mekita Kennar, Tupu'aga Siovaiata, Viane Viane, Mauola Siovaiata, Faalelei Siovaiata 3 .

Shelter, sunshine and shade, picnic tables and playground space made Pollard Park a perfect Kiwi setting to welcome new Samoan residents to Blenheim.

On Saturday members from the existing Samoan community organised a late afternoon barbecue at the park to officially welcome new families who have moved to Blenheim from Samoa under an Immigration New Zealand work scheme.

Tagata Pasifika programme adviser and Marlborough Samoan advocate Lapu Oliver said 21 families arrived under the Pacific Access Category scheme since October last year and a few more were due before April.

Having permanent, fulltime work was a condition of gaining residency and all of the families had at least one person working for Marlborough vineyard contractors, Mrs Oliver said.

Menu Puni, a minister of Ekalesia Fa'apotopotoga Kerisiana Samoan e Blenheim (Congregational Christian Church of Samoa in Blenheim), said Marlborough's church communities had been helping the new arrivals.

Basic household goods were provided to give the new workers a head start, and information about how New Zealand laws and ways of life differed from those in Samoa shared. For instance, the law against parents using even a gentle smack to discipline children in New Zealand was an important one, Mr Puni said.

Samoans carried their culture with them wherever they lived, however, so life in New Zealand should not feel too foreign for the newcomers.

"The Samoan culture is still as strong in Blenheim as it is in Samoa," Mr Puni said. "We might live further apart, but we still come together through the churches."


The Marlborough Express