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Tapping into the Pacific market

For years, advertising agencies have been trying to figure out how to tap into the burgeoning Pacific Island population in New Zealand.

Putting his hand up to provide a communication link between the cultures is Avondale-based, Samoan Ueligitone Malifa. He’s established Oceania Communications 2000 Ltd.

The company specialises in business and market development through appropriate and culturally sensitive communication strategies driven from a Pacific Island perspective, for the benefit of the business and the Pacific Island communities.

Malifa is uniquely placed to do this. From the age of 18 he was thrown into the family newspaper business in Samoa and worked through every job in the industry: from office boy to journalism, typesetting, making and selling advertisements,you name it.

He is presenting to media planners and companies the appropriate communication strategies to inform this niche market.
Media director for Colenso BBDO’s Media Directions in Auckland, Peter Myles, is one person taking advantage of Malifa’s service.

“Pacific Island people have been in New Zealand for about 50 years and now number more than 300,000.

“In 30 years, Pacific Islanders could number 700,000 and mainstream media needs to understand their mindset,” Malifa says.

“My role as Oceania Communications is to raise awareness within the Pacific population of sales promotions, products and services availability, specials, etc, through relevant and effective communication strategies offered to the business community of New Zealand.

“I firmly believe in our Pacific Island media to spread the word, and our churches as the backbone of our communities.

“Communications strategies are different from mainstream. Face-to-face communication builds trust, which is a valuable asset in developing marketing relationships with this niche market.”

Malifa recommends marketers learn greetings in the Pacific languages. For example, hello in Samoan is talofa, in Tongan is malo-e-lelei and in Fijian is bulavinakavakalevu.

He offers to attend commercial meetings with his clients and even speak at focus groups to break the ice.

“I advise them on communications and marketing strategies to capture the Pacific Island target market.”