PMA Inaugural International Women's Day Market Celebrates Women Entrepreneurs
Updates / Community, 11 Mar 24
This year, the Pasifika Medical Association (PMA) Group and Moana Women’s Network saw an amazing opportunity to kick off the celebrations for International Women’s Day (IWD) with a bang, hosting the very first IWD Market Day at Fale Ma'ama. The aim was to shine a spotlight on the talented Pasifika female entrepreneurs in our community.

Debbie Sorensen, PMA Chief Executive Officer, conveyed the importance of "Inspiring Inclusion" with her opening address. 

“It’s very important for us women to lift each other up every chance we get. We take great pride in our commitment to supporting women, and we intend to continue promoting it with enthusiasm," she added. 

The event was a hit, not just for promoting and supporting small businesses, but also for the connections made and the chance to network with like-minded individuals. 

Gwendoline Jessop Helg, owner of Islandise NZ, couldn’t have been more grateful to the organizers. She said, “Special thanks to the organisations responsible for facilitating today’s event, which provided us this forum not only to showcase our businesses but also to be there for each other and build each other up.” 

We caught up with some of the incredible women to find out what inspired them to start their businesses.  

For Megan Faumuina, owner of Rewa and Co, it all came back to family. “Our culture is everything to us. We wanted to give back to our families for all they’ve done and for our kids’ futures.” 

Alannah Meredith Vatao, owner of Oa Tāua, echoed this sentiment. “Family, love, respect, and service are what drive us.”  

Agnes Meredith, owner of Grassroot Vets, is on a mission to raise awareness about responsible pet ownership in Pacific communities. She said, “Taking care of animals might not seem like a big deal compared to other issues, but it’s important.” 

Inclusive representation is what inspired Ofa Makalio to start Beautifully Polynesia. She explained, “I think more than anything, when you’re a young kid, you want to see a representation of yourself and be able to feel proud. During the time I grew up, there was culture around us in our daily world, but we wouldn’t see it in the media. So I wanted to do this through art and photography.” 

Nolene Tuala, owner of Pele Baby, is all about encouraging more Pacific women to chase their dreams. “If you’re passionate and you’ve got a talent, go for it. Have faith in yourself and take that leap!” 

Other businesses, like Kreative Kuki, Tavs, Mrs Q Arts and Crafts, and Tamahine Collection, draw inspiration from the vibrant colours and values of Cook Islands culture.  

Sonia Fonua, owner of Koloa Jewellery, reminded us of the importance of International Women’s Day. “It’s a time to celebrate women more than we usually do and to recognize the different experiences women have, both locally and globally.”  

The IWD Market Day not only celebrated the entrepreneurial spirit of Pasifika women but also highlighted the diverse inspirations driving their businesses, emphasising the importance of mutual support and inclusivity within the community.