Creating a Better Future, In Profile: Pefi Kingi from Niue

I was born and raised in Niue, an island country in the South Pacific Ocean 1,500 miles northeast of New Zealand, educated and raised in Aotearoa, New Zealand and some of the United States, and currently reside in New Zealand. I am one of two Pacific Islanders here [at the World Conference of Indigneous Women, in Lima, Peru]. In the history of the Pacific peoples [and] the UN, we have been a disparate race. We comprise many islands, many hundreds of dialects, and we still haven’t gathered ourselves together. We are not working as one, nor are we even
paddling our many different canoes in a similar direction.

A lot of dialogue is required amongst our people to create a stronger voice and be a more united force. The beauty of Pacific men and women is that we are all beautiful. That is to say, we all have our particular gifts that our Kupuna have identified for us and nurtured in us. You would be a little foolish if you came to this forum not bringing that richness with you. So women know their place, men know their place, and hopefully we can [find] the complementary roles where the two spaces converge, because our common denominator has to be our children now.

Our children are diasporic. They are no longer full blooded this island, full blooded that island. We are talking about a new generation, a new race. That has to be our main point of concern. When I look behind me, we haven’t done a very good job of building the capacity and the capability of our children. We have created a little privileged group: that’s how we are so proud to have acquired particular gains through our  children. But our youth are as disparate as we are right now. 

It’s such a double-edged sword isn’t it? On the one hand, we want them to have some white man education, and on the other hand we want them to have total Kupuna education. And we want them to stand tall and never drop the culture that they are given, either male or female. As the villagers you and I, we must be more supportive than we have been to one another so that we can actually nurture the youth as we should. That is as simple as I can break it down. We haven’t started thinking of ourselves as one village, and that may be problematic. We haven’t even started thinking of ourselves as many villages in one ocean. We have actually acquired many of the values from other cultures. What does it mean? It means that we are just going to have to work that much harder.

The mother has an extremely special place. Not only is she the doorway for our future generation, but she is in any home in matriarchal Pacific societies. For many Pacific societies, our women are treated as equals. Where we differ from white mainstream feminism is that we prefer to work with our families, our Ohana. These are the sacred posts of society for Pacific. We could teach [the mainstream] a few things, but perhaps we’ll just hold that sacred. We have grown tired of being exploited, so we are not going to share too many things, not yet. Not until we get our strategic game plan together. And our game plan is always about working hand in hand with our men, because we are the complementary halves to one another.

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