Your Pacific Voice Matters

There has been a turn in the tide of our people. Our voices are being heard in a way like never before. This shift couldn’t have come at a more important time in our history. As Pacific people, we’ve often been misunderstood, misused and under-acknowledged. We’ve struggled because we do not have a strong voice on the stage of our world. Today, that’s changing. Today, your Pacific voice matters.

Without a voice, we have no story. Without a story, we do not exist

Have you ever turned on the TV, and noticed the only stories with Pacific faces are the ones being shared on the news? Have you walked into a book store, only to find a small section (if any) dedicated to Pacific novels and history books?

This is because there are only a few of us who are sharing our stories. Which is great – but as I’ve quoted Novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie before – there is danger in a single story. Sharing a single story, or only a few our stories, means that people will be left to assume that we’re all alike – all similar to the faces on our screens and the voices in our books.

We as Pacific people know how diverse we all are – but not one person outside of your community will ever know unless you open your mouth and talk about it. Without raising your voice and telling your story, you simply do not exist. Your problems don’t exist and your achievements don’t exist. How will anyone outside of your home know about the struggles you face? How will anyone outside of your community understand the dangers our people are fighting to change? How will anyone understand our culture, or celebrate our joy and our success, if no one ever talks about it?

When you give your story a voice, you give your story power

Understand that there is power behind your voice – the one thing that connects your story with the outside world. Our ancestors knew that. They believed in it so much that storytelling became an intrinsic part of what it means to be a Pacific person. Without storytelling, we would have no idea who we are or where we come from. We would know nothing of the land, the sea and of our culture. This concept of voicing our story is not new to us – we just need to rediscover it.

Storytelling begins with conversation, and conversation can move a nation. It all starts with one person, sharing their story with another. That person could be you. You could be the one who starts a movement in your family, your church, your school, your workplace, your community, your country and even in our world.

It takes courage, experience and education for your voice to have an impact

If you’re unsure about how to use your voice to influence people around you, begin small. Start sharing your story with people you trust, and adjust your method based on what works and what doesn’t. You’ll find that shouting your story on the rooftops can have as little impact as whispering it in your bedroom. You need to share it with the right people, in the right way, at the right time. Get your facts right and make sure you’re speaking from experience and education – this is what makes your voice genuine and authentic. Pure opinion can only take you so far – arm yourself with the right information to back up your story.

As a Pacific person – and as a human being – you deserve the right to share your story. The world doesn’t deserve it – but it definitely needs it. The best part? You are not alone. Join me, and many others like me who will not stop voicing our story, and creating platforms for our Pacific peers to do the same. Know that you are supported and you are valued – and that we’re eagerly waiting to hear the beautiful power which is in your voice, and in your story.

talanoa

Arieta Tora Rika is a writer, Pacific storyteller, and Talanoa's Founder. With over 10 years of experience in social impact and non-profit communications across Australia and the Pacific, Arieta has dedicated her career to writing for positive change in vulnerable communities. She is currently a Communications Manager for The Salvation Army's aged care services, a part-time student at Western Sydney University as she completes a Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology), and a sometimes storyteller and cultural advisor for Talanoa.