An innovative new programme for Pacific pre-schoolers, developed by Waitemata Plunket, was launched in August.
Pasifika Beatz – Pate Pate! is a free Pacific-focused music and play group for families and pre-schoolers in the West Auckland area.
Local mum Natalia Gasu was instrumental in designing and shaping the programme.
“Because I am a New Zealand-born Samoan, I wanted to give my children the opportunity to stay in touch with our Pacific identity and culture through language and music. Pasifika Beatz gives us the opportunity to learn and engage with Pacific culture together in a really fun way through music, stories, play and dance.
“Each session is based around a theme, such as animals or colours. The stories, songs and activities are designed to bring the session’s theme to life in a Pacific context, drawing on traditional stories, mythology, songs and music. And while the children play, their families have the opportunity to have a hot drink, share stories, laughter and experiences with other families.
Emily Auva’a, Waitemata Plunket Pacific Services Coordinator, says Pacific children are one of the population priority groups identified in New Zealand’s Child Health Strategy.
“As a population group Pacific children continue to have poorer health outcomes than other New Zealand children. This initiative is a step towards bridging this gap and supporting families.
“We wanted to bring it back to basics. Pacific culture is very much centered around village life so we developed Pasifika Beatz around a village concept. It’s all about inclusion, self- responsibility, cultural values, fun, and sharing of food and stories that will open up discussions to important issues.
“Mums, dads, grandparents, aunties, uncles and friends all play a big part in raising families in our Pacific communities so this initiative is something for the whole family.
“Pacific people love their kids, love music and love sharing and hence a village concept was re-born in Waitemata”.
The Plunket Waitemata team began trialling the playgroup in May 2011 and recently received funding to expand and continue to run this initiative in the local community.