Pasifika youth group to establish advisory panel

BY Anuja Nadkarni


The success of an innovative Pasifika youth programme called Tula’i has brought in a proposal for a youth advisory panel for West Auckland local boards.

Tula’i provides an opportunity for Pacific youth in West Auckland to discuss and understand the importance of leadership using their cultural context, programme coordinator Dominique Leauga says.

At a recent Whau Local Board meeting in New Lynn, the programme’s co-ordinators gave an update on the progress of Tula’i that began with its first event in 2011, where students from several West Auckland high schools participated in team-building activities.

Since then, the programme has had several follow up events and currently works closely alongside 12 West Auckland high schools to deliver the leadership courses.

“We’re after the ones who don’t get the help – the guy that has to sit on the bench every Saturday because all the other boys get the chance to run around the field or the girl who perhaps wants to dance at Polyfest but isn’t so confident,” Mr Leauga says.

The courses include goal setting, team work and confidence-building activities that are reflected upon at the end of each weekly class to see how they could be applicable to real life scenarios, Mr Leauga says.

The Whau, Massey and Henderson local boards have contributed $10,000 each toward the initiative.

Whau local board member Ami Chand says such a programme is important to have for the Pasifika community.

“It provides a platform for the youth to have a voice in the community.”

According to a report by Statistics New Zealand, Pacific students have some of the lowest levels of participation in school leadership.

Kuiniseti Seuseu is a sports captain in her final year at St Dominic College and has attended every Tula’i session since last August.

According to Miss Seuseu, Tula’i has helped break stereotypes associated with Pasifika youth.

“I think we’re often posed as not being good enough and we get put down a lot for who we are. I think Tula’i has brought us out of our shells more and helped us achieve what we want not just what people say we can achieve,” she says.

Miss Seuseu says if the youth advisory panel does get finalised, the panel will be a helpful tool for West Auckland youth to share their input on community discussions.

Current students attending the programme will graduate from Tula’i on June 30 and the next intake of students will take place in August later in the year.

The students who graduate will then be eligible to become part of the youth advisory panel.


Final News Story – Totara Avenue

Ethnic flavours spice up street’s transformation

Totara Avenue in New Lynn, which once served as a path to brick kiln workers in the early days of Auckland and then a thoroughfare for traffic going to the city’s west, is now being transformed into a hub of multicultural activity.

The street has witnessed major developments over the past decades, including the country’s first modern shopping centre, Lynn Mall in the 1960s, to the recently developed multimodal transport station.

New Lynn is culturally diverse and celebrating this is the night market, one of the many initiatives, supported by the Auckland City Council and Whau Local Board.

This free-entry event has 25 hand picked food stalls and takes place on Thursday evenings from 5.30pm to 9pm outside the New Lynn Community Centre on 45, Totara Avenue.

The New Lynn night market is currently a six-month trial feature due to run from June 20 till December 19.

Bevan Chuang, the night market’s coordinator says the aim behind the event is “to revitalise the place.”

New Lynn is currently on the cusp of further growth and the changes around Totara Avenue mark the beginning of the future improvements for the area, Ms Chuang said.

Inspired by the local night markets in Asia, the Council emphasise on the essence of the event being community based rather than aiming for commercial success.

One of the community development aims of the night market is to showcase local businesses to allow them to gain recognition and confidence, while also bringing additional income.
“Store holders will tell you [they] make more money in one night [referring to the night market] than [at their] shop…over three days” the Ms Chuang said.

Ms Chuang also spoke of the social development aspects of the night market. The Wise Women program from the Auckland Regional Migrant Services is the example she used. The members are given a platform to make money, gain confidence and independence to eventually start up their own businesses and provide for their families without relying on social welfare.

A tea stall owner, Lee David, mentioned that night market, has made the community safer. While, another stall owner, Bhavna Deshpande, and a customer, James, believe the event brings the community together, serving as a place for people to learn about the many ethnicities in Auckland.

New Lynn’s infrastructural developments such as the addition of the shared space street, has increased pedestrian activity allowing events like the night market to become popular places to visit.

Permanency of the event is dependent solely on the results of the trial, Ms Chuang said.

However, other Auckland suburbs have begun showing interest, with Orakei being one.

Customers and vendors are also keen for the market to expand and grow. The council seems to be receiving more positive feedback than criticism, said Ms Chuang.

It certainly has gained popularity, having sold 530 plates of food in its 14th week.

Though the Auckland Council’s trial project runs only in New Lynn, there are similar markets around Auckland that are run by private companies in the parking lots of shopping malls.

New Lynn, however, provides an array of events throughout the year alongside the night market such as The Legends of the Moon, which featured for the second time this year due to popularity. Also the Tea and Toast event that told the story of New Lynn with the suburb’s icons imprinted on slices of toast, which visitors enjoyed with a cup of tea.

The next time you pass the suburb, budget a little extra time to visit Totara Avenue; it not only hosts many events but also houses sculptures and monuments that celebrate the suburb’s remarkable history.

What are your thoughts on the events and overall developments in New Lynn? Click HERE for the full interview with, Bevan Chuang. Please share any comments below or email for any queries.

Interview with Bevan Chuang

I interviewed Bevan Chuang who is the market coordinator of the New Lynn night market event. I had to film and do a voice recording as the public location of the meeting meant I had to ensure that individuals that appeared in the background were not being filmed as I didn’t have their consent. The parts filmed will be available on my YouTube page which is

Also I decided to type up the interview because unfortunately the location where we filmed was busy so the sound quality is quite poor- however this location was chosen as it catered to the interviewee’s convenience. Below are some key points from the interview that were recorded.

Q. What is your association with the New Lynn Night Market.

  • Bevan is the market co-ordinator for the New Lynn night market.
  • The need for an event for New Lynn was proposed by the local residents to the New Lynn community development team as they wanted the place to be “buzzing”.
  • A similar multicultural community event that took place last year called the Legends of the Moon run by the Auckland council on Totara Avenue- the same place the night market is held- also increased the public’s interest for a similar event. [This event was also held this year due to last year’s success]
  • The New Lynn community development team then thought of setting up the night market and trial it for a six month period to see “whether or not it is feasible, whether or not it fits the transformation [of New Lynn] but also whether… it fits the community development goal”
  • Bevan has been involved in the project since February of this year. She began with handling the paper work to managing the event and is currently gathering feedback of the event in order to make the report for the Council to see what is to be done in the future.

Q. As this is only a trial, do you see a possibility for it to become a permanent part of the community and perhaps establish in different parts of the city and country?

  • Bevan said that other community advisors are interested, however they too want to see the final result of how the New Lynn trial night market fares before they go on to do similar things.
  • “Orakei is another one that has expressed interest”
  • The event is focused more on community than commerciality and so she is doubtful that it will be able to run in the long-run under the Council as it would be quite expensive to run as the vendors are not being charged the full price to hold their stalls.

Q. Have you received any criticism or concerns regarding the night market?

  • Criticism they have received is regarding the ‘wash against waste’ concept
  • This concept involves the dishes being washed instead of disposable plates, and the food scraps being recycled through compost bins and worm farms to promote a greener environment.
  • Concerns about hygiene have been brought up regarding this concept by people. Bevan however, claims that the concept has been doing well as the New Lynn night market is still relatively small allowing for the concept to run.
  • The previous week they had washed over 530 plates washed, which she does admit was difficult due to fewer volunteers, so they aim to improve that for the future.
  • The only other criticism they have received concerns the weather as it is an out-doors event, and they have had to cancel the event two occasions.

Q. What do you think this event means for the community?

  • The night markets attracts the local residents to take advantage of the new facilities there. She would like to see more traffic there even on days besides Thurdays, as the idea is based more on community development.
  • “the store holders would tell you he makes more money in one night than he does at his shop…over three days, which is…not very good because we’re trying to build up the business here”

Q. Why was New Lynn picked for this pilot night market?

  • The area has been going through major development in terms of transport and infrastructure over the past three years, however the place itself has still been quiet.
  • “…the transformation project… includes the new roading…, apartments, carpark and medical centre,new pavements and the shared spaces outside the community centre”
  • “We wanted to revitalize the place, it used to be quite a buzzing place, and now we’ve got the new train and bus station we want to create the buzz again…create interest.”
  • The council are looking at developing other parts of  New Lynn, so the changes around Totara Avenue mark the beginning for the future developments
  • “The community has been really supportive- there is always room for improvement but i think so far we have heard more good things than bad, so that’s really supportive and good news for the council too”