The Atafu Tokelau Community Group (ATCG) supports proposed legislation that will see community groups have a greater say in the sale and supply of alcohol in their area.
The group submitted a formal written submission to Parliament's Justice Select Committee on the Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Community Participation) Amendment Bill, and last week made an oral submission.
It's believed to be the first time the ATCG has a made a formal submission on a bill through the select committee process and likely to be one of the few times a Tokelau community group has formally responded this way on new proposed legislation.
Ioana Viliamu Amusia, Frances Pedro and Les Tenise Atoni represented ATCG during the oral submission. ATCG member Seanoa Faraimo coordinated the submission and played a lead role in drafting the written submission, with the support of the ATCG Health and Social Service Sub Committee.
ATCG President Les Tenise Atoni opened the group's oral submission with a prayer in gagana Tokelau.
He told the parliamentary select committee on 1 March 2023 via Zoom (see video below of the full oral submission), "we're not opposed to the sale and supply of alcohol in our community, but we know the negative and harmful impact that the misuse and abuse of alcohol can have on the health and wellbeing of our kāiga.
"That's the reason we come here today to support the provision of the bill to allow greater participation and input from the community on the sale and supply of alcohol in our area," he said.
Les explained that ATCG is party to a five year Kāiga Tokelau Wellbeing National Strategic Plan 2022–2026, which was supported and funded by the Ministry of Social Development. One of the ambitions of the plan is to optimise the importance of housing and health through a Tokelau cultural lens.
"Our guiding value is Ola Manuia, to live a life of prosperity, being healthy mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and socially," he said.
Voice to be heard
Ioana Viliamu Amusia told the select committee that "we want our voice to be heard, to let people know that we are here, that we are invested", and willing to do what's needed to promote the general wellbeing and wellness of our community.
"I speak as a mum of young males, I speak as a registered nurse working in the Cannons Creek, Porirua area, and I speak as a member of our community with lived experience," she said.
"As a mother, we always want to protect and make sure that our young people are well supported. We already know that Pacific young people are impacted by alcohol.
"One of our roles as a community group is to support and protect, and make sure that they are well looked after. So having a say in this bill is really important to us," Ioana told the select committee.
Frances Pedro said that Pacific communities are communal groups that all have similarities.
"We have generational populations within our group and we all have roles and responsibilities in the group, so it's no different to the concept of a village."
Frances said the Tokelau cultural framework of Kāiga Māopopo promotes strong cultural values and working together. She said the proposed legislation would shift the power balance to allow communities to voice their opinions.
"The Tokelau community are supportive of the amendments because we know it's going to bring about a change and we know it's going to have influence, and we have a responsibility to our community," Frances told the select committee.
Seano Faraimo, who coordinated the submission response, said that the "constitution by our founding fathers and mothers of Atafu Tokelau Community Group, from the very beginning, identified it was very important that high levels of Health & Wellbeing is one of the 'must achieve' goals for our members".
He said the Health & Social Service team felt it was a logical step in the development of ATCG to respond to the bill.
"Toeaina Sila Taupe would say it’s a privilege to be 'building a strong organisation,' we don’t do it alone we seek opportunities in partnership with government agencies, stakeholders, communities, and leaders, we are looking forward to having all those kōrero and mahi," Seanoa said.
Influencing alcohol regulation
The bill aims to improve communities’ ability to influence alcohol regulation in their area by making targeted changes to the alcohol licensing process provided for in the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012.
Proposed changes include:
Amending the Act so that parties can no longer appeal provisional local alcohol policies.
Allowing district licensing committees to decline to renew a licence if they consider that the licence would be inconsistent with conditions on location or licence density in the relevant local alcohol policy.
Changing who can object to licensing applications.
Changing the way that licensing hearings are conducted.