Pasifika women at the helm of Hamilton churches renovation project

Pasifika women are taking a leading role in the Pasifika Church Renovation Project in the Waikato region. Felila Asiata-Feausi will oversee the project management of the renovation of four Pasifika Churches in Hamilton. Felila, the National Growth and Partnership Manager for Alignz Recruitment says, it was important not to miss out on an opportunity to give back to their communities. She says after a consultation process with their management team, parents Meta and Lesa Tyrell owners of Alignz Recruitment, and the wider Pasifika community, the decision was made to submit an application.

“It was a huge leap of faith.”Felila Asiata-Feausi

Alignz Recruitments HR/Projects manager Alana Tyrell says everything they do is built on their values, “Christianity is a big thing for us. We just felt it was the right thing to do.” Felila and Alana know what this project means to the community amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Felila says, “the impact has provided hope, but as a result it’s provided employment opportunities for over 50 people, created social impact for 400 plus community members in the Waikato region, the chance to engage and work with 14 small to medium businesses, 80% of those are Pasifika and Maori.” Alana says they understand the struggles of being a small business.

“Being able to talk to people that have lost their jobs and the contractors, listening to their stories how they lost so many contracts.Alana Tyrell

It’s not lost on Felila who has worked in the trade and construction industry for more than 10 years that this is a predominantly male workforce. She says it has been a good challenge and her experience has taught her how to deal with contactors.

Alana says it has been interesting.

“Especially as a women, you come across people that look at you like, what do you know, not knowing that we’ve been in the industry for years. Alana adds it’s good seeing we have women leading on this project. Alongside Felila, Tonga Robertson is the Project Coordinator and one of the contractors on the project. Tonga is Director of her own business NEST Interiors and Designs. Alana says seeing these two ladies coordinate everything is awesome.

It’s great to see women on site, roofers, painters, more women in trades are emerging.”Alana Tyrell

Felila says they are mindful of the task ahead and the outcome for their communities, “our Parents keep us grounded, to remember our purpose and they remind us of a well know Samoan proverb, ‘O le alai le pule o le tautua,’  ‘The pathway to authority/leadership is through service.’ ”

The project is part of the previous Government’s Provincial Growth Fund, 3 billion dollars over 3 years to invest in regional development. $9.5m of funding is from the Provincial Growth Fund Covid Response package to redeploy workers whose jobs have been affected by the pandemic. The project is expected to be completed by July 2021.

Note: The four Pasifika Churches set for renovation are:

  • Hamilton Samoan Methodist Church
  • The Congregational Christian Church of Samoa
  • The Westside Presbyterian Church
  • The Wesleyan Church of Tonga.
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