Etu­ata’s work for Pa­cific com­mu­nity recog­nised

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By RHI­AN­NON McCON­NELL

A Ni­uean church leader was Porirua’s only con­tri­bu­tion to this year’s New Year hon­ours list.

Tom Etu­ata, a Mt Cook res­i­dent who is on the board of the Whanau Cen­tre and has been a pas­tor in churches in Tawa and Ti­tahi Bay, re­ceived a Queen’s Ser­vice Medal for ser­vices to the Pa­cific com­mu­nity.

‘‘I’m very hum­bled and priv­i­leged to be recog­nised in that man­ner,’’ the fa­ther of six said.

‘‘You labour as a ser­vant and all of a sud­den some­one nom­i­nated my name.’’

Etu­ata said his work was to keep the Ni­uean her­itage alive.

‘‘For most of our young peo­ple born in New Zealand, English is their first lan­guage and Ni­uean is not even their sec­ond, be­cause of the dif­fi­culty.

‘‘I put my time and en­ergy into that area. On one side is our Ni­uean cul­ture and the other side our New Zealand life.

‘‘My fo­cus is how to bal­ance that for peo­ple.’’

In 1986 Etu­ata pi­o­neered a na­tion­wide Niue Ra­dio pro­gramme on Wellington Ac­cess Ra­dio for the pro­mo­tion of the Niue lan­guage.

Since mov­ing to Wellington from Niue in 1967, Etu­ata has worked for the IRD, and as an ac­coun­tant and a min­is­ter.

After study­ing Christian min­istry for three years in Dunedin, his first parish was Tawa Union Church from 1990 un­til 1998. He then be­came the min­is­ter for St Ti­mothy’s Ti­tahi Bay Pres­by­te­rian Church from 1999 un­til 2012.

‘‘The two com­mu­ni­ties are so dif­fer­ent.’’

He said he saw a lot of wealth in Tawa, and more hard­ship in Ti­tahi Bay. That led to his in­volve­ment in the Whanau Cen­tre from 2012.

‘‘I thought that was a very good way I could use some of my ex­pe­ri­ence.’’

Though re­tired since 2012, Etu­ata is still heav­ily in­volved in the New Zealand Pa­cific Is­land com­mu­nity and has been a mem­ber of the Min­istry of Pa­cific Is­land Af­fairs ad­vi­sory coun­cil since 2010.

He was pre­vi­ously chair­man of Niue Fono Motu, a na­tional body es­tab­lished to en­cour­age col­la­bor- ation among Niue Pres­by­te­rian min­is­ters, el­ders, fe­male lead­ers and Niue youth lead­ers in New Zealand, and chair­man of Niue Ka­u­fakalataha, a group he es­tab­lished in 2005 to pro­vide support to other smaller Niue com­mu­nity groups.

Photo: RHI­AN­NON McCON­NELL

Long ser­vice:

Rev­erend Tom Etu­ata has helped keep the Ni­uean lan­guage alive in Porirua.

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