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The Pasifika Collective Provides Education, Crisis Management, and Community in NZ

27 April 2022By Laura Shaughnessy
Auckland New Zealand Panorama View
Auckland, New Zealand
iStock/huafires

Written by

Laura Shaughnessy

Laura Shaughnessy has been the managing editor at Dockwalk since February 2018. Having grown up among the cornfields, she is ecstatic to be among the boats in the yachting capital of the world. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s in journalism, 15 years of experience with newspapers, magazines, and the online world, Laura has joined a great crew. When not writing about superyacht crew, she’s hanging out with her husband and their German Shepherd. Email Laura at laura@dockwalk.com.

Since The Pasifika Collective (TPC) was created in September 2021 by former captain Mark Donaldson, his three-member team has made it their mission to work with superyachts to provide education, crisis management, and community throughout the Pacific. 

Their first event was a food drive to help New Zealand communities struggling through COVID lockdowns in September, but they also create projects and match yachts and crew with them to solve problems and create deeper connections between Pacific cultures and yachts cruising the region. They’re establishing a network of ambassadors throughout the Pacific to help keep up to date with crucial info.

Isla McKechnie, Alison Walker, and Mark Wightman of Integrated Marine Group

“Our work is primarily based around the superyacht industry and The Pasifika Collective formed from our work together within the industry. We work to improve the lives of Pacific people, and we’d like to incorporate more and more yachts, captains, and crew as they move through the Pacific, which will both help Pacific communities and help yachts gain a greater perspective of Pacific culture,” says Isla McKechnie, general manager, The Pasifika Collective.

They work closely with communities across the Pacific to establish what the community needs. From there, they then create projects and match yachts and crew with them, to solve problems and create deeper connections between Pacific cultures and yachts cruising the region. “We’re also establishing a network of ambassadors throughout the Pacific who are our eyes on the ground to feed information back to us in New Zealand so we make sure we're always up to date with crucial information,” McKechnie says.

Their Crew Expertise

After ending his 10-year crew career in 1999, Donaldson returned home to New Zealand before working with the OnWorld Challenge Syndicate in the 31st America’s Cup Campaign. He later started Marinelogix.co, a complete yacht support and marine supply company that serves in New Zealand and the Pacific; he also brought National Marine to New Zealand.

Alison Walker with School Kits

In this newest venture, he brought on former chief stewardess Alison Walker. As crew liaison, she’s regularly been in touch with crew ensuring they know about Pasifika Collective’s projects, are informed on ways they can be involved, and gathering feedback and ideas from crew about further potential projects. She’s also been coordinating many of the charity’s logistics and collecting goods and donations from crew around New Zealand docks and representing Pasifika Collective.

Walker, who left yachting five years ago after her last role as a chief stew aboard a 40-meter world cruising sailing yacht, spent 15 years as crew. “I moved ashore as I’d fallen in love with New Zealand and wanted to be permanently land-based so I could get my residency here,” she says. “While I do sometimes miss being at sea, it’s a great feeling to welcome yachts to New Zealand and be helping crew gain a deeper understanding of the Pacific, which I spent so much time sailing through.”

Currently, they’re working with Hon Jenny Salesa, a Tongan-born, New Zealand member of Parliament, to learn more about which rebuilding projects are needed in Tonga as they move from the immediate relief needs into the longer-term recovery stages after the undersea volcano and tsunami that caused widespread devastation in the area in December 2021. They’re speaking about projects like the potential construction of a community library on Tonga (which doesn't have one), school restructuring requirements, and agricultural needs to ensure a supply of food in the months to come.

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