Featured Story

Otara 'Te Mana O Te Aroha' Event Educates and Entertains

Hundreds of Otara neighbours gathered at the "Te Mana O Te Aroha" event on Saturday, 20 August, sponsored by Tamaki Stake, a  group of congregations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"'Te Mana O Te Aroha' is Maori for 'the power of love,'" said Dahlia Lemafa, President of the Tamaki Stake Young Women organisation and one of the event organisers and show script writer. 

"We chose that name because we felt it represented what we were trying to do to support members of the community in learning how to strengthen their families whether it be through health, education, finance, etcetera, that would lead them to living a more productive and self-reliant lifestyle.

"We know that when families are living within their means, when children are being educated and are aiming for higher education, and when people are learning how to manage their health better, the likelihood of them living longer, more productive lives is much better!" 

The free event, held at the Otara Pool and Leisure Centre, was open to the public and was designed to increase awareness of available local and national services and resources.

The many stalls and booths provided a wealth of information, services, and materials, including free health screenings, employment and career assistance, emergency preparedness materials, financial services, fire safety and police information, education counselling and registration forms for courses creating a pathway to higher education. 

Participating groups included New Zealand Career Advisory, Pacific Communication Services, Le Va, Ministry of Social Development, Manukau Institute of Technology, New Zealand Police and Fire Safety, Te Wananga o Aotearoa, among others.

Attending the event with his family, Fa'anana Efeso Collins, Chairman of the Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board said, "We need the churches in our community for all the good they do."

A young men's leader of one of the congregations in the Tamaki Stake, Falaoa Tofa, said, “It took a lot of sacrifice to organize the activity, but I enjoyed the day. For families searching for the right future for their child, there were lots of opportunities for them to sign forms and register for courses. I will take the forms to my [congregation's] young men who weren’t here.”

Maria Noovao, who took photos on the day, said, “It was really good, really informative." 

She continued, "The participants really enjoyed it, especially the fire safety. The youth enjoyed the army and police booths. We all learned how to be more aware of fire safety, emergencies, education opportunities and careers.”

Eleven-year-old Pepetoga Tauiliili said, “I enjoyed the Ministry of Education booth. It got the attention of all that want to go back to school. They have many different programmes to help them go back to school. I also liked learning about the Maori language, since it's the first tongue of this country, and because they found the island, we need to learn their history and their tongue.”

Faaifoaso Mulipola, 14, said, "My favorite booth was the Police. I learned that I have to concentrate and do well in school to become a police officer."

When the many stalls and booths were taken down, around 80 youth from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other faiths performed a musical theatre for the large audience.

It was called, "The Song of the Child," and told the symbolic tale of a young princess from Hawaii journeying through the Pacific Islands to Aotearoa in search of her exiled mother.

They presented traditional cultural dances wearing the respective costumes of Hawaii, Fiji, Samoa, Niue, Tonga and Aotearoa (New Zealand). 

A local senior leader of the Church, President Tame Loamanu, closed the event by saying to the audience, "We thank all the youth who have been rehearsing for nine weeks to learn all the dances. We also thank the tutors, parents, and leaders for the love and sacrifice they have made to support the youth, and especially the tutors and performers who are not LDS."

Dahlia Lemafa said, “It took a lot of people coming together to put this show on, sacrificing their own time, their own families, their own children. I got so excited. I loved it.

"There were wonderful people from the community services who were patient and cooperative, they gave a lot of good information and helped a lot of community members today. The kids also had a really great time working together to make this show happen.”

Her 17-year-old son, TJ Lemafa, one of the performers, said, "It's all about commitment and has a lot to do with love. I believe the good things we do never go unnoticed. I really enjoyed this afternoon."

Chairman Collins concluded the day with, "The Church continues to act as the hub of Pacific communities. It is here that we can nurture and unleash the God-given potential of youth, in particular. I am honoured to attend a passionate and vibrant event with the LDS parish of Otara."

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.