Meet the Walking Samoans

With a prayer and a stretch the walkers are off.

There's music and laughter – a mix of Samoan and English chatter – as the flower-festooned group begins to walk around the lagoon.

Those that get tired sit by the water, listen to some tunes and cheer on the others but the party atmosphere belies a deadly serious mission.

They're the Walking Samoans and they're here to make healthy changes.

A play on the names of comedy acts The Laughing Samoans and The Naked Samoans, the walking groups sprouting around the country are the very essence of grass-roots community initiative.

Started by Auckland's Radio Samoa in 2013, 14 clusters have formed, encouraging Samoans to address the shorter life expectancies, higher rates of obesity and diabetes statistics that plague the Pasifika community.

The theory behind the initial group was that radio listeners – mainly parents and grandparents – would pick up the challenge and set an example to their families, Radio Samoa managing director Ane Ponifasio​ said.

The Samoan community liked to be together and the groups allowed them to do that in a healthy, positive way.

"It's a global Samoan village with a purpose."

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