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Women Speak Out! A Report of the Pacific Women's Conference. October 27 – November 2

New Zealand — Women in an urban situation

page 8

New Zealand

Women in an urban situation

The role of the Pacific woman in New Zealand, to me, at the moment is very, very insignificant at regional and international level. At the grassroots level, which is the Pacific Islands community which embraces the Samoan community, the Tokelauan community, the Niuean community, the Cook Islands community, the Fijian community - the women folk are certainly very strong, very vocal, especially within their church groups and within their women's organisations. In fact, the women are the only ones who do anything at all to help each other.

It's the woman's role (to me it's very important) within the community to cope with seeing children off to school. Some of them work at two o'clock in the morning - they get up, they go to their part-time jobs, they come back home at half-past seven, they prepare the children for school, and see them off. Then some of them go off to another part-time job or a full-time job, in trying to help the family budget. In a city like Wellington, men's wage-rates are up to $200.00 a week, rent of a house is up to $60.00 a week. Clothing, (well, I'll just name a few garments that you put on) - a coat is nothing below $60.00, unless you go to a sale then you'll be lucky to get something under $30.00 or unless you go to a Bazaar then you might be lucky to get something really cheap. But of course, being proud women of the Pacific, we want nothing but the best. Food: for $10.00 or $20.00, your housekeeping money will buy you very, very little. The mother, the wife, is expected to cope with the family, and then herself cope with whatever she meets as she commutes daily from home to her job, to the dairy, to the shops, to the city and back again.

So our role in New Zealand as Pacific Islands women at community level, we are very active within our own Pacific Island community. Outside that, at the moment, we don't really have much inter-action with other women's groups, apart from our own Maori sisters. There is very little contact yet made by Pacific Islands women, as a whole, with the New Zealand woman (if I can call her that) – really meaning page 9 women other than those of kinship.