June 5, 2014

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In Bloom

Pacific Islanders Plant New Roots in Utah

By Heather Stewart

June 5, 2014

Her children and grandchildren are her primary labor force, lending a hand whenever they are available. The business offers entertainment—music and dancing—along with its catering service, and these days, says Pauni, it’s mostly her grandchildren and nieces and nephews who perform.

Pauni’s children learned many business and customer service skills while working in the business, but most of all “they learned to be proud of being Polynesian,” she says.

Friends and Neighbors

Mataele says Pacific Islanders are very entrepreneurial and willing to work hard to make a living. Uipi agrees, noting that many Islander business owners are landscapers, plumbers and contractors. “We’re typically known to be in labor-intensive industries,” she says.

Uipi says local businesses could do a better job reaching out to the Pacific Islander community—contracting or partnering with Islander businesses and cultivating a more diverse workforce. She points to Zions Bank, which is “constantly recruiting people who look like the diverse community they serve.”

In Logan, Pauni says her grill has been embraced by the local business community. Many businesses use her catering and entertainment for luau-themed employee parties, including Conservice, Harris Research and Schreiber Foods.

“We have a lot of good neighbors and good friends everywhere we go,” she says. 

 

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