Kinaua Ewels. Photo Ministry for Pacific Peoples

Two east Auckland women have been recognised in the 2023 New Year Honours.

Kinaua Bauriri Ewels of Maraetai and Yong Rahn Park of East Tamaki have been awarded The Queen’s Service Medal – Ewels for services to the Kiribati community and Park for services to the Korean community.

Ewels has been supporting the Kiribati community since migrating to New Zealand. She published her first children’s educational book in 2007 titled ‘I want to read and speak Kiribati’ to give an opportunity for children to be able to converse in both English and Kiribati.

Her most recent work ‘Konenerio and the Flag Master’ is based on the faith of her grandfather and the pivotal role of I-Kiribati people during World War II. She contributed to the Kiribati Educational Resources Project in 2021, producing various resources of poems, rhymes, songs and a grammar book. She has been an integral member of the Marewen Kiribati Community Group since 2006, providing a voice for the Kiribati minority amongst other larger Pacific country representatives.

Yong Park established the Korean Positive Aging Charitable Trust.

She initiated Te Wakauea Play Group in 2008 to introduce the Kiribati language through an education outlet for Kiribati children and mothers based in Auckland. She was the primary lead and project manager for the New Zealand Kiribati National Council to organise Kiribati Language Week festivities and events. Ewels used her role as a community leader to promote best practices to protect against Covid-19 and pushed for higher vaccination rates amongst the Pacific community. She represents the New Zealand Kiribati National Council on the Pacific Leadership Forum.

Park has been active in New Zealand’s Korean community for more than 10 years and has worked on promoting Korean culture to the wider community and assisting Korean families to settle and integrate.

She established the Korean Positive Aging Charitable Trust (Kpact) in 2012 which represents the Korean community, especially seniors, in engaging with government agencies and welfare organisations. Kpact was established as a Korean community hub and operates valuable community projects in collaboration with partner agencies empowering Korean residents to participate in local elections, censuses, and events.

Kpact also offers educational opportunities for lifelong learning as well as Korean traditional dance and music and organises initiatives such as local sports, marae visits and presentations of Māori culture and visits to location attractions. She led Kpact to make kimchi, a Korean food staple, and held an event to distribute kimchi to 100 underprivileged households as well as holding a workshop on how to make kimchi.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Park helped provide various support services to the Korean community including a helpline for Korean migrants, translation of information, helping individuals get vaccinated, provision of emergency food support for isolating individuals and those in need, social outreach for seniors and English education services including over Zoom during lockdowns.

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