Matua Day – Fun and fellowship for our Pacific elders

The fun day is coordinated by Ailua Makalio, the Cultural Advisor for Etu Pasifika – the largest Pacific health provider in the Canterbury region.

She says the event brings together around 50 elderly from all parts of the Pacific who share in activities which contributes to their overall health and wellbeing.

“It’s a very rewarding job,” says Makalio, who organises the day with fellow Etu Pasifika staff member Tagaloa Samuelu. “The things that they share is helping me grow as a leader – spiritually and culturally. They share about their histories in the islands, their families and how they relate to having children born and raised here in New Zealand.”

Matua Day happens every Tuesday and has been a regular fixture for Etu Pasifika for the past three years.  The genesis for Matua Day was an observation from Etu Pasifika staff and navigators who visited the elderly and found that many were lonely and isolated from their peers.   

“Many of our elderly were stuck at home and didn’t have anywhere to go. We wanted to provide a comfortable, fun and safe environment for our matua to share their stories, culture and language. A place for them to laugh and enjoy each other’s company. They call it their golden day,” says Makalio.

Every Tuesday the matua are picked up from home and brought together at a community space. The day starts with a lotu (prayer) and a check in, where everyone shares how they feel, how their weekend was, how their families are, and any other exciting news.

“We always keep an eye on the mood of the day and run the activities accordingly. This is their program, and we are there to facilitate and support the activities to their needs and to how they feel” says Makalio.

“Our matua group is unlike any other group of people that we work with because there is something extra special about this group. They are such lovely people, and we are so blessed to be part of their journey.”


Date – Tuesday 27 April 2021