For the first time ever a Turou – ‘Ava blessing ceremony has been held at the New Zealand parliament for new Pasifika MPs.
Five new MPs with Pacific heritage were elected this year bringing the total of Pasifika MPs in the house to 11 – the most ever.
Flanked on both sides by ‘ei wearing supporters and with joyous Pasifika singing echoing through the lower halls of the Beehive – the five newest Pasifika MPs and their families were welcomed to a blessing ceremony held in their honour and attended by community, church and political leaders.
The first ever ‘Ava ceremony for new Pasifika MPs was held at parliament on Monday 30 November 2020. Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Koroi Hawkins
For first time Otaki MP Teris Ngobi, who is of Samoan and Scottish decent, it was a privilege and honour to be able to celebrate the moment
“We also get to have a voice for our Pacific people in a place where it really matters and that is parliament. Making those decisions and making those laws for our peoples so yeah pretty special,” she said.
The ceremony was a combination of the Cook Islands Turou, Samoan ‘Ava and Christian laying on of hands.
As well as bestowing divine and ancestral blessings, the occasion anointed the Pacific leaders with the love and support of their community and remembered those who came before.
“My mum’s from Samoa so when she came over here in 1975, it was with hopes and dreams for a better life for any children she may have later,” Terisa Ngobi said.
“So [it is special] to be able to celebrate this moment with her and with the rest of our aiga, our whānau in there, knowing the sacrifices they made including leaving their homes so that we could have a better life.”
It is also a very special ‘Ava for Takanini MP Anae Dr Neru Leavasa whose brother in Samoa stood in for him at the ‘Ava which was conducted to bestow him his Matai title.
Anae said he looked forward to serving his Takinini constituents and also seeking better outcomes for Pasifika.
“In terms of my priorities it is that I can input and influence the Pacific health and lifting health and well-being for our peoples,” Anae Dr Neru Leavasa said.
SOURCE – RADIO NZ