Community advocate Lealamanu’a Aiga Caroline Mareko, MNZM, knows all too well the devasting impact when Pacific mothers put the well-being of others before their own.
Her mother, Sevailoa Emily Mareko, never looked after her own health and never got a regular mammogram because she was always focusing on her family. By the time she was diagnosed with breast cancer, it was in the later stage and she died from the illness in 2009.
“Our Pacific women are the backbone of our homes and keep our families going. Pacific mothers tend to put others first and don’t take care of themselves. When we fall over, then who is going to look after the family?”
Mareko, and other Pacific women from various churches in the Porirua and Wellington area, decided to act and spread the message to women about looking after their health and wellbeing. This is an important issue because statistically, a low percentage of Pacific women have regular mammograms and cervical smears, yet Pacific women have one of the highest rates of late diagnoses for cancer.
The group of women organised a free “Pinikilicious Day” event, which has become an annual fixture in the Hutt Valley and Wellington area for more than ten years. The fun filled day, which is partly sponsored by Pasifika Futures, is a time when Pacific women can be pampered and enjoy exercise routines and music. At this event they receive the important messaging of regular health checks as well as other wellbeing messages around the awareness of domestic violence prevention.
“Most of the women who come to our event each year do take action and go and get their breast and cervical screening. It is also great to see lots of happy Pacific women come together, just for the day.
This event saves lives. We want to reduce the high rate of women getting a late cancer diagnosis. If we can save a mother and catch it early, then that’s the best thing.”
Pinikilicious Day is on Saturday 17th April at Te Rauparaha Arena, Porirua from 10am – 3pm.
Date: Friday 16 March 2021