Auckland-based Tongan churchgoers serve community with food and masks during lockdown

This story appeared on TVNZ and is republished with permission

The theme for Tongan Language Week this year is Fakakoloa ‘o Aotearoa ‘aki ‘a e lotu mo’oni – a Tongan perspective of enriching Aotearoa spiritually.

Covid-19 has restricted lotu, or church services, in New Zealand. But as Tagata Pasifika’s John Pulu reports, lotu mo’oni is shining through church groups, who are continuing to serve their community during these challenging times.

During the second lockdown, a group of volunteers from Siaola, a branch of the Vahefonua Tongan Methodist Church in New Zealand, have delivered food and masks and paid the utility bills of more than 4000 families.

The organisation has been running for 14 years, helping in areas like education, employment, health and support through faith.

With more families seeking help and advice amid the Covid-19 outbreak, Siaola has received much needed funding from the Government, and has helped unite other congregations in their work.

“There are organisations that can help families who are experiencing hardship, so reach out,” says social worker Iunisi ‘Efoti.

“The reason why we do this work, and it’s the same for the whole team, is because we care about our people that we serve, we have skills we want to use to help our church and make use of them to help our families and communities,” says Kathleen.

The Siasi Metotisi Lotofale’ia church in Māngere, South Auckland has also been used as a pop-up Covid-19 testing station for the community.

Watch Tagata Pasifika’s full story above.

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