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Pacific forum . . . Tupu Aotearoa leaders (front) Hana Halalele and Silou Temoana present the employment project to Pacific leaders in Oamaru. PHOTO: GUS PATTERSON

A new project to help young Pacific people find meaningful employment launched in Oamaru last week.

The Oamaru Pacific Island Community Group has received funding to implement Tupu Aotearoa, formerly known as the Pacific Employment Support Service, in North Otago.

The Oamaru group is using the funding to employ mentors on a part-time basis to provide support for young Pacific people who are not employed or studying.

The programme aimed to catch people who could be “slipping through the cracks”, Oamaru Pacific Island Community Group chairwoman Hana Halalele said.

“We really just want pathways for opportunity for our Pacific [people] to be able to engage and consider other career opportunities,” Mrs Halalele said.

The group is looking for local employers to provide work opportunities, work experience or long-term employment.

“We provide the one-on-one mentoring and pastoral care support,” Mrs Halalele said.

“For example, for a person to do an apprenticeship in building, a lot of the time the practical side is a lot easier than the theory side, so our role would be mentoring and making sure they stay on track and linking them with literacy [and] any other additional support they might need to get them over the line and complete their apprenticeship.”

With $8.85 million from the Provincial Growth Fund, Tupu Aotearoa expanded to the South Island for the first time in October this year.

In other centres, the contracts normally pay for one social worker who supports all participants in the programme, but the Oamaru Pacific Island Community Group has six local Pacific leaders, all with different areas of expertise, who will split the workload between them.

“We developed a different model, more of a village-type support setting,” Mrs Halalele said.

“It takes a village to raise a child, so why would that not extend to the learning environment?”