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Port of Auckland’s Pasifika Day a family affair

Preparations for the Port of Auckland's second annual Pasifika Day celebrations are well underway with a mum and daughter teaming up to help plan the event.  

Vanessa Wolfgramm an​d her daughter, Charissa, work at the port and are on the 13–person Pasifika Day planning committee.  

The port held its first-ever Pasifika Day for staff last year and it was a huge success.

Vanessa, who is the port's newly appointed Pasifika Outcomes manager, says the event acknowledges and celebrates the rich and diverse Pacific cultures at the port.  

"It is important we get to express who we are. Pasifika Day allows us to do that through celebrating the different traditions, language, art, music, dance, and cuisine," says Vanessa. "It's also a great way to connect our Pasifika people from across the port to foster a sense of community and belonging at work."

The port's Pasifika Day on 21 March will be a lively mix of cultural performances, songs, dance, and delicious Pasifika soul food. The line-up this year will include a performance from Ruta Solomona and the Lau Tifa'imoana Group who will put on lunchtime performances.  In the evening, Tuvaluan staff who work at the port, and their families will be performing.  

Executive assistant Charissa, who joined the port four years ago, says the strong sense of community is enhanced by the port's cultural festivals acknowledging the diversity of its workforce.    

"The days bring us together, strengthen our bonds at work, and contribute to building a positive and inclusive culture," says Charissa. "It allows the staff to proudly share and embrace our cultural roots, fostering a strong sense of pride and belonging within our workplace community."    

The Wolfgramm family's connection to the port runs much deeper than the Pasifika Day celebration.  

Vanessa's son, and Charissa's brother, Darius, has been a straddle driver at the port for three years. Charissa's husband, Michael Maupese, also works at the port as a leading-hand linesman and deckhand in the Marine Department. 

"There is a real sense of diversity throughout the port and you get to work alongside people from all walks of life," says Michael.  

This is Darius' first job out of school and has allowed him to grow and learn. "I feel lucky that I landed in a place where I have learnt from people with different life experiences, and have made many lifelong friends."

While the port helps to facilitate the criss-crossing of goods across the North Island, do the Wolfgramms ever cross paths at work?  

"We don't bump into each other much during the day but when we do, it's usually to figure out who is shouting lunch," says Charissa.