Several dead, dozens unaccounted for in Wellington hostel fire

The Loafers Lodge hostel in Newtown, in Wellington’s south, caught alight overnight, prompting an evacuation.

The prime minister, Chris Hipkins, said at least six people had died. “I understand six confirmed previously and it looks like there are likely to be more.”

Police said on Tuesday morning: “Our initial assessment is that the number of deceased is fewer than 10, however, we are not in a position to be any more specific until we can access the building.”

Samoa opens new High Commission Chancery in Wellington

The new office was launched by island nation’s prime minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa.

The Samoa High Commission in Wellington has been in operation for more than 45 years.

In her address, Mata’afa gratefully acknowledged the funding from the Unit Trust of Samoa (UTOS) which made the Project possible.

She also acknowledged the hard work of the Project Team under the leadership of the High Commissioner, His Excellency Leasi Papali’i Scanlan.

Wellington-based Samoan student named Emerging Pasifika Writer in Residence

Victoria University of Wellington's International Institute of Modern Letters announced Tamara Tulitua as this year's Emerging Pasifika Writer in Residence.

Tulitua traces her lineage through the villages of Lefaga and her writing considers identity and belonging.

The residency will provide her with 15,000 New Zealand dollars over three months and access to a mentor.

She intends to use the residency to work on a collection that mixes prose and poetry as it explores the experiences of tama'ita'i Samoa (Samoan women) in diasporic settings around the world.

Wellington loses two All Blacks tests, Eden Park gets back to back games

The opening Bledisloe Cup game against the Wallabies remains at Eden Park this Saturday, and because of the pause in the trans-Tasman travel bubble, game two (which doubles as the Rugby Championship opener) will now also be played in Auckland a week later.

The game was originally scheduled for Perth on August 21st.

Sanzaar wanted the match to be played on a Saturday night, effectively ruling Wellington out as a venue with the Beervana event scheduled for next weekend.

Sydney COVID-19 case flew to Wellington last weekend

The New South Wales health authority issued an alert late on Tuesday about two flights between Wellington and Sydney linked to the case.

It said passengers who were on one flight into Wellington, and one flight back to Sydney last weekend, are considered close contacts of a COVID-19 case.

The flights were Qantas QF163, which left Sydney at 7.05pm on Friday 18 June and landed in Wellington at 12.12am on Saturday; and Air New Zealand NZ247, which left Wellington at 10.13am on Monday 21 June, arriving in Sydney at 11.33am.

Hundreds of Pacific people receive COVID-19 vaccine in Wellington

Part of a series of ‘festival days’ – where the Pacific community is vaccinated together in a welcoming environment – today’s event was the first in the region to be held in a place of worship.

Capital & Coast DHB worked with Tū Ora Compass Health PHO and the church community on the event last week.

“It was wonderful to see so many of our older Pacific members there today, and we look forward to more events like this supporting better health outcomes for our vulnerable communities,” said Tū Ora Pacific Director of Health Henrietta Hunkin-Tagaloa.

Pasifika culture and heritage celebrated in Wellington

Thousands attended the Wellington Pasifika Festival on Saturday, thought to be the largest in at least a year, with Auckland's Polyfest and Pasifika festivals cancelled in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Festival goers were treated to Pacific music and dance, arts and crafts and delicious island cuisine.

But it is much more than just a festival to the people involved, such as the president of the Wellington Solomon Islands community Glorious Oxenham or 'Aunty Glo', as she is more commonly known.

Pacific community in Wellington stand for Samoa

"As a Mum of two young girls, seeing the number of young children dying in Samoa has been heartbreaking," said Sophia Uele of Tautua Dance, one of the organisers of the event.

She said she and her partner felt raising funds for Samoa could be one way to help, and once the call went out for performers, people generously said yes.

"The amount of love and support that they have all shown us, when this only [went] out to everyone maybe last week to see who would be free to come along - and we have about 15 acts," she said.

Wellington Police arrest 35 in major methamphetamine investigation

Since August 2018, Wellington Police have targeted two syndicates involved in what is believed to be the distribution of millions of dollars’ worth of methamphetamine into the wider Wellington community.

As a result, 31 men and 4 women aged between 23 and 42, from around the Wellington and Central Districts, have been arrested.

More than 200 charges will be laid in relation to offending that includes distribution of methamphetamine and cannabis, money laundering and firearms offending.

Pacific midwives in NZ join protest for better conditions

The midwives said they are overworked, stressed and underpaid.

Just over two percent of the country's midwives are of Pacific descent but the workload is often heavier because Pacific mothers tend to experience more complicated births.

One of two Pasifika representatives on the national College of Midwives, Trish Taihia, said they end up working many more hours to offer appropriate cultural care, but their pay doesn't adequately recompense them.