The Waitaki district could be used as a case study for delivering Tupu Aotearoa services, Lisa Tou-McNaughton says.
Speaking to a packed room at the Brydone Hotel as part of an employment and training forum last week, the Ministry for Pacific Peoples Southland and Otago manager praised the wider Waitaki community for supporting the initiative.
Tupu Aotearoa has been offering mentoring and career development for Pasifika people in North Otago since late last year.
On Thursday night, Mrs Tou-McNaughton spoke about her father, who moved from the Cook Islands to New Zealand to further his career, and said the bravery he showed was being repeated by Pasifika who were also seeking new career opportunities.
She said the diverse crowd at the event reflected a community that was committed to improving.
Other guest speakers at the event, who were from government agencies and private enterprises, outlined opportunities they had for professional development for Pasifika people.
The way Tupu Aotearoa had been rolled out in the Waitaki district, with wide community support, was a perfect example of how the programme could be most effective, she said.
“We have to work together as a Pacific community and a wider community.
“It’s very pastoral, it’s about the person and their family.”
Oamaru Pacific Island Community Group president Hana Halalele said the project encouraged Pasifika people to think long term.
“It’s awesome to revitalise their aspiration to pursue those career pathways.
“It is [about] being a liaison between our local employers and helping people strengthen those opportunities and pathways.”
One of Tupu Aotearoa’s aims was to help remove barriers to further education. That was something Sione Halalele, who was at last week’s event, was interested in hearing about.
Mr Halalele moved to New Zealand after finishing high school in Tonga. For three years, he has been working as an mechanic, but could not get an apprenticeship due to his high school qualifications not being recognised in New Zealand.
To get a pre-trade qualification, he would need to attend classes in Timaru three days a week, but with three young children, that was not financially possible. If he had gone to high school in New Zealand he would only have to go one day a week.
“So I’m stuck,” he said.
“It’s sad. Some people want to study but it’s hard to even know if they can.”
Another person at last week’s event hoping to find out more about study options was freezing worker Metasoni Manu, who had moved to Oamaru from Tonga.
In Tonga, Mr Manu was a qualified mechanic, but his credentials were not recognised in New Zealand.
“I enjoy being a mechanic and would like to get back into it,” he said.
He knew of other migrants in Oamaru who were working as labourers, but were qualified teachers and bankers in their home country.
Mrs Halalele said she was pushing for Ara Institute of Canterbury to offer more local courses.