Koreti Tiumalu: Building a Pacific Climate movement from New Zealand

There’s a really amazing person that has been working with our Pacific team over the last six months. It’s time we let her introduce herself and share her story. We’re totally inspired and excited to be working with her – Koreti Tiumalu!


It’s time for me to introduce myself – I’m Koreti Tiumalu. I’ve been working with 350.org in New Zealand (outside of my full-time job) for the last six months now, as the Pacific Outreach Coordinator. In that time, we’ve started building a unique Pacific movement in New Zealand around climate change.

When I came on board my knowledge of climate change was next to none. In fact if you told me a year ago that I’d be the 350.org Pacific Outreach Coordinator, I would have laughed at you – it’s been that much of a journey for me. As well as my crash course on climate issues in the Pacific with Aaron, I did what any other person wanting a deeper understanding of world events would do – I went to Youtube. In one weekend I watched lectures, speeches and actions from all over the world and was blown away. It was truly my lightbulb moment.

My parents migrated to New Zealand from Samoa with my three eldest siblings, no money and no English back in 1962. I grew up in Newtown, Wellington, listening to their stories of life in the Islands – living off and working the land they loved. This instilled in me a passion for Pacific people and a desire to ‘give back’ for the sacrifices they made.

It is our families and friends who are directly impacted by the effects of climate change – extreme weather, rising sea-levels, erosion and water salination issues. That is where it hits home for me, and it hits home for all Pacific people. I know this to be true because I have seen it in the Pacific outreach work we have done so far this year. Although we have been raised here in New Zealand, our cultural links bind us to the Islands as still being “Home” and what’s happening is not okay. Pacific Youth have asked the same question at every event we’ve had – “What can I do? How can I help?”

Over the last six months, we’ve started to make this vision a reality and have run “Pasefika Climate Change Jams” in Auckland and Wellington. Now as we build up to Power Shift NZ-Pacific, our goal is to get 100 young Pacific Islanders living in New Zealand to actively participate in the event. We will harness that energy, to then reach across New Zealand’s Pacific communities in 2013 and beyond.

It’s time Pacific people found themselves a seat at the table where these things are discussed and tackled – and I am excited to be a part of an organisation who has recognised the valuable contribution that Pacific people can bring to that table. We will bring colour, new ideas, new life and above all else, heart.

I’m really excited, and I’m also daunted by the work ahead. Doing all of this on top of a full-time job is a real challenge, but I’m committed to making it work, as this is just too important for it not to happen.

You can contact me by email here. You can catch Koreti in the video shown in the article here – which was made for the World Social Good Summit in September.

 

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