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Otara Community Demonstrates How to ‘Love Thy Neighbour’

“Love Thy Neighbour” was the theme of a recent weekend of community outreach activities in the Otara Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

A stake is a geographical group of neighbourhood congregations of the Church.

The Otara congregations gathered together recently, partnering with other community groups, to plan and carry-out several service projects and host a celebratory awards night.


The projects included food donations from the members of the Church and community that were distributed in cooperation with the Citizens Advice Bureau Otara to 19 needy families and pensioners; Christmas gifts that were donated in cooperation with the Refugees as Survivors (RASNZ) to children at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre; and parcels of donated goods delivered to the Manurewa Marae for the Homeless and the Rawiri Community Centre.  

Lin Kaiou of the Otara Citizens Advice Bureau said, “The families were most grateful that someone cares. [One man] has a lot of serious health issues and a lot of his income is spent on the cost of medical care. He was very grateful. [Another family] struggles with all sorts of social issues and Mum is doing her very best to advance her education and relieve the stress on her family. The families that shared in the remainder of the food greatly appreciated what was provided and, as with the others, have felt relief from the worries of the day through the food share with them.”


In addition to the service projects, the Otara Latter-day Saints hosted an awards night to recognize local individuals for their service to those in need. The Otara Papatoetoe Chair, Lotu Fuli, and Fa’anana Efeso Collins were distinguished guests attending that evening.

Karl Tustin-Rex was the master of ceremonies for the evening. Victoria Taupau, the Church's director of public affairs in Otara and one of the event organizers, introduced the award recipients, and Sione Pulu, president of the Otara stake, presented the awards.

The Church Boiiz, Le Zionite Band, and a group of youth provided several musical numbers for the event.

The recipients of the service awards were: Jenny Salesa, Manuaku East MP; Fa’anana Efeso Collins, Manukau Ward, Auckland Council; Nadeen Papali’I, Tangaroa College Teacher; Lin Kaiou, Otara Citizens Advice Bureau Manager; Fatumata Bah, Sierra Leone Refugee, Otara Papatoetoe Youth Council, and Westpac Finalist in Women of Influence; and Denise and Steve Barrett, Otara family.


Each of the award recipients was recognized for his or her outstanding and exemplary service. Salesa was recognised for her service to the community; Collins for his service to youth. Papali’I was recognised for her service in teaching, and Kaiou for her service in supporting vulnerable families. Bah, a Sierra Leone refugee, was recognised for her service in speaking up as a refugee survivor and youth advocate. The Barretts were chosen for helping refugees from Bangladesh, the Shamsul family, settle in Auckland.


The Otara Papatoetoe Youth Council (TOP Squad) were introduced as the new faces of their Local Youth Board. They are: Sheralee Patea, public affairs youth council, and Anastasia Matavao, public affairs media specialist, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Fatumata Bah, Auckland University of Technology; Thictyree Gasu and Alexandra Gasu, Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate; Ammon Pulu, Otahuhu College; and Kiu Va, Tangaroa College. Kiu Va is the Chair of TOPs and received a scholarship to study pre-med at Otago University.


The council members also attended the inauguration on the 31st of October for the swearing in of the new Otara Papatoetoe Local Board where they were introduced to their community leaders and the Honourable Mayor of Auckland, Mr Phil Goff.    

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