C.C.C.S. Reverend receives Queen's Service Medal
The service of Reverend Victor Pouesi of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S) in Mangere East to the local Samoan community earned the rare recognition of being a Queen's Service Medal winner in New Zealand.
The honour is a medal awarded by the Government of New Zealand to recognise outstanding volunteer service to the community.
Reverend Victor and his wife Salome Pouesi were called to serve at Puaseisei Mangere East church in 2002.
The couple and their family played an integral during the COVID-19 outbreak in South Auckland last year.
Speaking to local outlet Stuff this week, Reverend Pouesi said the realisation that he had been recognised took him by surprise.
He acknowledged his support group and praised them immediately.
His support group consists of his wife, Salome, and their three children, Siuila, Paluksantos, and Taeaofouimageleisasa'e.
Reverend Pouesi and his wife have been nurturing many Samoan children in New Zealand since 2002.
“When we moved to New Zealand, we had no understanding whatsoever of this country, but then we knew that God would always provide people to help us and work collaboratively with,” he said.
In 2008, they started a study center in which all the children from the community could congregate and study together; it was held at the church hall.
The initiative was supported by the University of Otago with scholarship opportunities for Year 12 and 13 students.
He also initiated a playgroup in the church hall to help families who could not afford local preschools.
The Taeaofou-i-Puaseisei Playgroup, a bilingual Samoan centre, was established in 2006 and has since grown into two purpose-built licensed buildings.
They now help provide opportunities for children to embrace their Samoan culture and heritage while creating local employment opportunities.
“We lead these young people so they themselves can be leaders and education is a huge part of that. We know that that will open opportunities for them,” he said.
“Our hope is that through this, it will open opportunities for their own families. It’s a great feeling to see them go on and buy cars and houses. You feel a sense of pride because it’s why we do what we do.”
Pouesi also helped steer his community through a COVID-19 outbreak, after members of his congregation tested positive for the virus:
“We’ve seen a lot of confusion going on, and especially when we had a positive case in our community, and we put up our hand to ask for help.
“We didn’t realise how much help there was out there and as leaders, we shouldn’t be afraid to do this.
“We need to know where these services are so our people can get access, and education is a part of that.”
For 12 years, Pouesi also coordinated the ’13 Days of Christmas’ event, a programme of nightly performances by church and choir groups, and also hosted an Institutional and Careers Expo at the church in 2019.