Each year, up to 60 Year 12 and 13 students from across West Auckland are specially invited to participate. The programme doesn’t just target those who are already leaders in their schools, churches or youth groups. Instead, there’s a focus on giving everyone an equal opportunity to participate.
‘The more leaders the Pacific community has, the better and stronger its future,’ explains Tula’i Co-ordinator Michelle Buchan.
This innovative project runs for three months each year and is organised around a series of modules and themes. Young people explore identity and culture, leadership, resilience, health and well-being, teamwork, and financial literacy.
There’s also a strong emphasis on contributing to the community. As part of the programme, the students are encouraged to make a difference in their local communities. And participants have been imaginative in how they have achieved this.
One group chose to focus on older people and spent a day visiting Glen Eden’s Terence Kennedy House. They chatted to residents over dinner and sang songs to entertain them. Residents much appreciated the visit. And the young people also got a lot out of the experience.
Another group set up for a day at Avondale Community Centre and distributed blankets, pre-loved clothes and a sausage sizzle to the homeless.
And there’s no doubt, the programme is making a difference to local communities and the young participants.
Faith, a recent programme graduate, explains more: ‘I’ve found myself through this forum,’ she says. ‘I wasn’t sure if I would fit in, but I clicked with everyone straightaway, and it made me feel like a Pacific Islander,’ adds Faith.
The three West Auckland Local Boards fund the leadership programme. However, rising costs and Covid have impacted the bank balance. A successful application for $10,000 to the Your West Support Fund has helped bridge the funding shortfall.
‘We are grateful for the help of the Your West Support Fund,’ says Youth Horizons Operations Manager Carmen Atama. ‘This is such a valuable initiative to our Pasifika youth,’ she adds.
This year marks the leadership programme’s tenth anniversary. And an event will take place mid-year to celebrate the significant milestone.
Check out the Facebook page for highlights of the 2021 programme and updates on what’s to come in 2022.