Over the Labour Weekend 2013, the MVPFAFF and GLBTI communities in association with the New Zealand Aids Foundation, and the Love Life Fono Organising Committee, came together for the 5th Bi Annual Love Life Fono. Hosted at the University of Auckland’s Waipapa Marae, the theme of the Love Life Fono was the Voice of the Third Spirit:
'Love Life is about acknowledging our cultural heritage and honouring the special people in our communities. MVPFAFF people were an accepted part of Pacific life and culture prior to Western colonisation, but have faced stigma and discrimination in more recent times. Research shows that HIV resilient societies are societies that are safe and supportive of everyone. Because of existing stigma and discrimination, it is vitally important that mainstream communities in Aotearoa and the Pacific develop supportive environments for sexual minorities. Events like Love Life give our communities a voice and strength that at other times is easily marginalised or can go unheard. Love Life is about empowering our MVPFAFF brothers and sisters to believe in themselves and in their place in this world. The goal of every Love Life Fono is that by the end of the event, participants will have the skills to develop programmes that they can lead in eliminating cultural and social barriers to the health and wellbeing of MVPFAFF communities'.
In support of the event, the Samoa Business Network helped to promote the Love Life Fono via its social media networks as well as sending their Secretary Tim Baice to attend and be part of the Fono.
The attendance at the Fono, over 100 participants of various Pasifika ethnicities over the course of the Fono’s three days, highlighted the significance of the Fono, and the broad based appeal such an opportunity presents to a very diverse Pasifika community.
One of the beautiful things about this fono, was the provision of space for this particular grouping in our Pacific community, often the most marginalised and ignored, to come together to speak about issues relating to their often vulnerable places within our community.
For many participants, this was the first opportunity to meet other MVPFAFF and GLBTI people, as well as meeting leaders and activists within the group such as Phlyesha Brown-Acton and Cindy of Samoa, to learn about the work these amazing individuals engage in, on a daily basis in advocating for our people.
“As the Samoa Business Network is predominantly committed to representing the interests and views of Samoan Businesses, it is only natural that we engage in other work such as this in order to support our people to be the best that they can be, regardless of the domain”.
The Samoa Business Network would like to thank and acknowledge the Love Life Fono 5 Committee; Elton Raharaha, Cindy Of Samoa, Frances Anderson, Jaroncye Lole, Tanu Gago, Phlyesha Brown- Acton and all those who supported, for not only their hard work in organising and executing this Fono, but their continued service and dedication to advancing and advocating for the voices of the ‘Third Spirit’.
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