Vote of support for fale malae welcomed

Wellington City Council’s vote to support the establishment of a twenty-first-century fale malae, a focal point for Pasifika culture in the heart of the capital’s parliamentary precinct, has been welcomed by those leading the project, including founding partner Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington.

Artist's impression of the fale malae at night

Adrian Orr, Chair of the Fale Malae Trust, says the Trust aims to develop a place of belonging for people of Pacific heritage for all Aotearoa New Zealand to enjoy. It plans on realising this vision as a four-way partnership between the community, Wellington City Council, central government and Victoria University of Wellington.

“Pacific Island societies are communal, and each society has a centralised place of belonging that is fundamental to their cultural identity. Our proposal is to deliver New Zealand’s first and only national Pacific place of belonging—situated in a prominent central Wellington location,” says Mr Orr, who is of Cook Islands and Irish descent.

Following a majority vote overwhelmingly in favour of the fale malae, Wellington Mayor Andy Foster said the Council was delighted to be able to support its establishment.

“The Pacific community is an integral part of who we are and it will be great if they have a place they can call their own. If Council support in principle can also unlock support from others then we’re further pleased to give it. We’ll still need to go through all the appropriate approvals once plans to build are developed, but this is an important step forward for the project.”

The Hon. Luamanuvao Dame Winnie Laban, Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Pasifika) at Victoria University of Wellington and a member of the Fale Malae Trust, agrees.

“Many people have worked hard over several years now to bring us to this stage and the Trust is grateful to them all,” says Dame Winnie.

“The University has been delighted to be a founding partner in this initiative. The fale malae will be an international centre that will further strengthen Wellington’s rich arts and cultural tapestry and confirm New Zealand’s identity as a Pacific nation.

“It will provide a place of belonging, recognise the accomplishments and diversity of our Pasifika communities, and better connect and support them with tertiary education and civic engagement.”

The Trust expects the total required investment to be around $35 million and is now working with the Ministry for Culture and Heritage to secure central government support as well as raising funds from the community.