Dear Parents and Caregivers I hope you and your family have remained safe and dry…
On Friday, 22 March, four Pasifika Rutherfordians (Easter Ioelu, Arwyn Lupi, T.k. Nangaiti Catherine Tomoare and myself) were invited to the ‘Tula’i Pasifika Youth Summit 2019’. From the moment we stepped out of the comfort of our school van, onto the Kelston Community Centre grounds, we were welcomed with love and compassion. We had the 2018 Tula’i cohort graduates greeting us, helping us get our name tags and finding our seats, you could feel and hear positive vibes. The hall was filled with Polynesians from Avondale, Henderson, Waitakere, Kelston Girls and Boys, Liston and St Dominics, just to name a few. It was such an uplifting sight to see people from all Pacifica backgrounds come together in love and unity.
We made our way to the main hall and with the help of the leaders and found our front row seats. Jeremiah Tauti, who was the main organiser, started us off with singing ‘E ‘Otua Tataki Au’ and ‘Ua Faafetai’ then we did a prayer. All the leaders introduce themselves and all had gratitude and admiration of the Tula’i programme. We had several people speak about the importance of Tula’i in our community and a Pasifika Artist who gave us a speech about ‘The importance of our decisions we make today’ followed by a live artwork performance. Everyone who had been to Tula’i before, shared the same admiration for it’s change in the Pasifika Youth mindset.
After a few games together with other schools, it was time to split into our workshops. I was fortunate enough to have known some people and to still have the opportunity to meet new people. We started off nervous and hesitant to engage in group discussions, but after a few rounds of ‘pukana’, we were all warmed up. We got to discuss the values of what Tula’i stands for: T is for Trust, U is for Unity, L is for Love, A is for Authentic and I is for Integrity. We had a ten minute task to make a performance using a given object. Ours was a Tanoa and link to the Tula’i values. With time ticking, our workshop decided to do the traditional ava ceremony with Tongan and Afatasi (half cast) student taking main roles to again show the Tula’i values.
We all performed in front of the whole audience, and were graded by selected judges. We were provided with a ‘sapas (pasifika meal) for our lunch. We then got called in for prize giving. A celebration of whistling, clapping and cheers filled the hall as The Tigers group were announced winners. Following this, we were told to take a chance. Chairs were lined on stage and a open mic stood dauntingly. With just five seconds to decide, we had to take a chance and raise our hands and perform. We had amazing singers and performers take the chance at Tula’i.
Our day concluded with a prayer and a song of thanks. But before we left, we were presented with the opportunity to become apart of a programme full of unity, love, diversity and leadership. With the summit being a huge success, my group decided to take the chance on TULA’I. We walked in as Pasifika Students and walked out as Pasifika Leaders.
Ana Lafaitele 12BK