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.