Fitness group unites Flaxmere community to help displaced RSE Workers

Limited resources have not stopped community group, PolyActive, from helping those affected by the Hawkes Bay flooding last week.

Tagata Pasifika reports the group launched two years ago, offering free fitness classes in Flaxmere, where Pacific people account for around 30% of the population.

But when the deluge hit the region last week, founder Viliamu Malaitai says the group felt compelled to assist the Pasifika victims, mostly RSE workers, who had lost their homes and possessions.

“As we know, these guys come from overseas, so they only have what they have, and to lose what they have, which is the bare minimum, it’s quite sad really,” Malaitai says.

“A lot of them haven’t connected with their families, so there’ll be a lot of worried parents at home or family members at home. These guys are very worried. They want to reach families and let them know they’re ok.”

Malaitai says PolyActive has been a point of contact for those wanting to help the workers, referring to his group as the ‘unofficial Pacific provider in Hawkes Bay’.

“We’re there for the community to have a place where they can come and help. We can utilise the people around us to help us or to help them help our people,” he says.

But the group operates on little funding, which has affected the speed at which they can provide help.

“There are some people who just want to do the mahi and get the work done, and we’re happy to do that, but it would be good to have the backing to help us, and it would make the work for our people a bit faster.”

They have relied on the collective efforts of their community to provide donated goods which they then deliver to six evacuation centres located in Flaxmere and Napier.

“That’s why we love the community. As soon as we put out the call, straight away, they come running, and they bring things,” he says.

PolyActive lead trainer, Priscilla Tuala-Fata, says there was a strong need for their group to provide support, despite the challenges.

“This is the first time we’ve actually seen something like this around our community, so it’s really heartbreaking,” she says.

“For us, as a team, we need to do it. This is what we want to do, and we want to help our Pasifika people just to get them by.”