​Wednesday Wisdom: Building rapport with our Pacific communities

26 Apr 2017 - News

Our Business Advisor Zechariah Reuelu knows first-hand the importance of building rapport with our Pacific communities.

Owning his own enterprise for more than 10 years in cultural design, he joined the Pacific Business Trust in 2012 and has witnessed a lot of changes in the ‘Pacific’ space. Today he shares the lessons he has learned about community engagement while at the Pacific Business Trust.

Building rapport with our Pacific communities is an essential part of doing business with our communities. With the Pacific population set to account for around 10.9% of our national population, a large proportion of this number consisting of youth, it is more important to talk about building rapport with our communities. Before I delve into the 3 tips, it should be noted that the Pacific Islands covers a diverse set of cultures in Polynesian.

These are just the 3 main things which I believe if executed very well will lead to a strong and lasting relationship with a lot of our Pacific communities: faith, authentic and meaningful engagement as well as a community emphasis.


Often, due to the influence of negative stereotypes of the media as well as the negative statistics our Pacific communities are often discounted. When looking to forge a strong and lasting relationship with our Pacific communities, you need to discount the preconceived notions of our communities you may have. This will help in ensuring authentic and meaningful engagement is achieved.

Authentic and Meaningful Engagement

Due to the way in which a lot of stakeholders have engaged with our Pacific communities, many are often wary of inauthentic engagement. Working together in an authentic way is more beneficial for all parties as it allows true synergy to take place. Further, this allows meaningful engagement to occur where there is a value to both sides beyond ticking the diversity box.

Community Emphasis

Often toeaina ma lomatutua (elderly men and women) are the greatest repositories of knowledge in our Pacific communities. Further, there is often a large emphasis on the value of community and the responsibility of reciprocity. When engaging with Pacific communities, it is important to be aware of the importance of these concepts and how this may affect the type of models used to structure companies and social enterprises.