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Tula’i Pasifika Youth Leadership Programme

O le ala i le pule i le tautua
Leadership is through service

Mālō e lelei, Talofa lava, Taloha ni, Kia orana, Fakaalofa lahi atu, Namaste, Ni sa bula and warm Pacific greetings.

Tula´i Pasifika Youth Leadership Programme is a 3 month leadership programme with modules tailored to which were team building and unity and TULA’I VALUES, Identity and Culture, Leadership, Health and wellbeing, Community Project, Resilience, Contribution to community, Financial literacy, Teamwork.Our Programme is held at the NewLynn Community Centre every Wednesdays at 4:30 till 6:30.

On Friday 6th May, five Pasifika students, Lua Suena, Leuatea Ioane, June Matau, Cecelia Chou-Lee, Zammie Su’a and myself were invited to participate in the 2022 Tula’i Pasifika Youth Leadership Programme summit held at the Kelston Community Centre. As soon as we stepped into the hall you could feel the warm welcome from the leaders and other Polynesians from Avondale College, Henderson High, Waitakere College, Liston College, and St Dominics College. It was amazing to see people from all across the Pacific Islands come together for Unity. We discussed the main key values of what Tula’i stands for: T for Trust, U for Unity, L for Leadership, A for Authenticity, and I for Identity. It was a fantastic day full of culture, leadership, connection and fun. There was a great line-up of guest speakers throughout the day and a cultural identity workshop held by LeVa. The workshop helped me know more about my own culture and identity. As a Pacific Islander growing up, I never had the opportunity to learn about my ancestors and how they came here. Each of the modules throughout the month were very meaningful and important to each of us.

One of my many highlights from this programme was the 3-day and 2-night camp during the term 2 holidays which was held at Motu Moana. A favourite highlight at this camp were the interactions within my group. We got to develop our social and decision making skills, and experience the great outdoors. The activities were rugby and volleyball, T-factor, the amazing race as well as many other activities. It was all about trying new things. Not only did you engage in the wildlife and nature, but you spent time away from technology and distractions. You could tell that everyone was having fun in making memories that would last a lifetime.

On Friday 29 July, it was time for us to say our formal goodbyes. Over 40 students from west Auckland high schools had graduated from the Tula’i Pacific youth programme. It was an emotional moment for everyone involved, as we all had to go our separate ways. The programme taught me more than I ever thought I was capable of. A group of strangers one minute, the next, a family. Not only did I gain better communication and confidence through such awesome programme activities, I also gained leadership skills which I have found useful within my own school.

I am so proud of the young Pasifika Islanders who completed and graduated from Tula’i Pasifika programme of 2022: Zammie Su’a , Leuatea Ioane, Cecelia Chou-Lee, Lua Suena, and June Matau. Throughout the 3-month programme I have become a better person. It has helped me to never forget my culture, its traditions and to look up to my ancestors. All key reasons why I am here today. It is important to embrace your own culture because it’s part of who you are. The way you act and the way you do things, tells people you’re a Pacific Islander. It’s important that you join school programmes like this because the differences you learn about yourself and other Pacific cultures can help to develop your own understanding of others. Working together is equally important to support and bring everyone closer together. One quote that I took away from this experience was that, “We should not be defined by the smallness of our islands but in the greatness of our oceans. We are the sea, we are the ocean. Oceania is us.” Even though we come from small nations, we tend to be strong when we come together. Overall it was a memorable experience.

Fa’afetai tele lava, tōfā soifua
Jonathan Chou-Lee 12KI, a proud Samoan male leader.

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