Auckland Pasifika march draws crowds

NICOLA RUSSELL
Last updated 15:44 16/06/2012

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It was a large, colourful and noisy procession up Queen Street this morning with dozens of flags, songs and chants for equality by about 800 Pasifika people.

The purpose of the Advance Pasifika: March for our Future, which began at Albert Park with hymns and prayers and culminated at Aotea Square with speeches and song, was to highlight the challenges confronting Pasifika communities. 

Reverend Uesifili Unasa said the march is a community initiative to give voice and visibility to the growing inequality of people, families and communities in our New Zealand society.

"In particular, there is a need to call a stop on government policies that have ravaged Pacific people's lives and aspirations," he said. 

The speeches at Aotea Square were led by Efeso Collins from Advance Pasifika, who called for the ministers, priests and MPs in the crowd to come forth so the people could see their leaders.

''We want our leaders to come from our community'' he said. ''We want real people who will stand up for our people.''

New Zealand-born Samoan Priscilla Smalley, 20, is studying Population Health at the University of Auckland.

Smalley came to the march because she believes Pacific people are discriminated against. Her study, she said has bought inequality in health to her attention.

''Maori and Pacific Island people are looked down on and blamed for not treating our bodies well. We need people like us to take care of us.''

A teacher from Parnell said she was at the march because Pacific people did not have a  voice.

''I am very comfortable but my people are not.''

''We are third and fifth generations but we cannot get through barriers, political, educational, everything. It is a subtle racism. We are a happy people, but we are also very capable.''

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- Auckland Now

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