Moana Vā providing safe space for Pacific Rainbow+ community

Pegasus Health is proud to support Moana Vā a new collective offering a safe space for the Pacific Rainbow+ community in Ōtautahi Christchurch.

Moana Vā wants to support the mental health and wellbeing of Pacific Rainbow+ community members of all ages by connecting friendships and mentorships, with a variety of Rainbow leaders, whose lived experiences  have enabled them to flourish and will help them develop and explore how to be the best versions of themselves.

Founder Suli Tuitaupe says the collective’s vision has always been to create a place of belonging for our communities where they can be themselves,  connect with likeminded people, receive support, advocacy and friendship.

“After seeing the struggles Rainbow LGBTQIA+, MVPFAFF+ (mahu, vakasalewa, palopa, fa’afafine, akava’ine, fakaleiti, fakafifine) have been facing in the mostly conservative Ōtautahi Christchurch area, it was clear a space or vā for our communities, was necessary,” says Suli.

Unfortunately, many of our Pacific Rainbow+ youth through to those in their early to mid-adulthood end their lives because they do not see the light at the end of the rainbow. Through fellowship, connectivity, events, and workshops we will be able to support our marginalised folks.

MahMah Timoteo who identifies as “any pronouns used with respect” says navigating being queer is one thing but being queer and brown is different again.

“Moana Vā provides this sense of safety and community for a group of people who may not have had it before,” says MahMah.

“There are a lot of complexities with Pacific communities in the way we navigate our queerness. Religion plays a huge part in who we are and how  we identify. It can be hard for Pacific peoples to present their whole self to the world, MahMah says.

Moana Vā officially launched on February 25, 2022, originally set to be an in-person event, a virtual platform had to be used due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Undaunted by having to accommodate the ever-changing climate around event holding, the Moana Vā Collective (the “Collective”) invited Pacific Rainbow LGBTQIA+ MVPFAFF+ (mahu, vakasalewa, palopa, fa’afafine, akava’ine, fakaleiti (leiti), fakafifine) communities in the Canterbury  Region and beyond to be part of the “Grand Coming Out” event.

The collective received 116 registrations to attend the online Zoom launch, with 68 participants attending on the night from all around the motu and several Canterbury District Health Board staff.

While the collective has big dreams for Moana Vā, Coordinator Lana Shields, who also works for Pegasus Health in the Equity Team, says the current  focus is on relationship building within the local communities and providing visibility to Pacific Rainbow and their families.

“Our hope is our collective will help inspire other Rainbow+ communities around Aotearoa to form likeminded groups,” Lana says.

Over the next six months they hope to encourage youth to join their programme, increase visibility of Moana Vā, build the team and grow their knowledge of what the local Pacific Rainbow+ community need and want.

Long term they hope to host workshops, train facilitators to present at local schools and to find a physical safe space where people can get together, to provide information sessions, events, workshops, and a place to connect.

You can connect with Moana Vā on Facebook: Moana Vā
or Instagram: moana_va.

Moana Vā are currently looking for Rainbow+ Pacific youth volunteers to join their team, if you are interested, please contact:

Read the full May newsletter here