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Pacific Islanders launch Tampa Host Committee

PINELLAS PARK, Florida — A group of Pacific Islander community activists this week met at the Sushi Lover Restaurant in Pinellas Park to launch a Pacific Islanders Tampa Host Committee to interact with delegations from Pacific territories and the State of Hawaii who will be traveling to Tampa to participate in the 2012 Republican National Convention being held August 26-30.

The leaders invited Rita Wesley, the Deputy Director of Events and Volunteers for the Tampa Host Committee to explain the role of her committee and to work with the islanders on volunteer opportunities in connection with the convention.

“While the Republican National Committee (RNC) has responsibility for all the activities inside the convention hall,” said Sau Tuiolosega Tupuola, a Samoan who helped organize the gathering, “the Convention Host Committee and our host committee are non-partisan groups coming together to provide civic support and welcome the delegates to the cities in our area.”

Delegates will be housed in hotels throughout the area, primarily in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater.

“This will be a wonderful opportunity to bring together many of the 2,000 Native Hawaiians and other Pacific islanders who live in our region,” said Rose Sugrive, a native Fijian who is the immediate past director of the St. Petersburg International Folk Fair Society (SPIFFS)) a non-profit, umbrella organization of many ethnic groups, including Tongans and Fijians. Ms. Sugrive's father, Pecell Tuinakauvadra, head of the Fiji group and Kalani Uhatafe, the Tongan group leader, also participated in the organizing meeting.

Masi and Nua Toafili, who also were at the organizing meeting, said they would meet again soon to discuss what the committee wanted to do. Some of the ideas discussed were an 'ava ceremony at the airport to greet the delegations, a luau on the beach and a community service project.

Pacific Islanders in the Tampa area who would like to be involved can call Mr. Tupuola at 727/259-5625 for further information.