Made up of six young Pacific leaders hailing from around New Zealand, Kau Tulī plays a key role in representing Pacific young people by claiming a seat at the table to help influence and shape decisions made for Pacific in Aotearoa.
Eighteen-year-old Jess Reiher from Porirua has been appointed as one of the representatives for the central region.
Of Kiribati and Māori (Ngāti Kahungunu) heritage, Jess is helping to inform and shape the Ministry for Pacific Peoples’ response to achieving goal four of Lalanga Fou and the Pacific Aotearoa vision of having Confident, Thriving and Resilient Pacific young people.
Q. What do you do currently?
A. After finishing secondary school at St Mary’s College in Thorndon, I am currently in my first year at Victoria University of Wellington studying towards a Bachelor of Commerce in Economics and Management.
Q. Why did you want to get involved with Kau Tuli?
A. Despite being truly blown away that I was offered this opportunity (I still am), it was definitely a no-brainer to accept. I have always been so passionate about social impact. However, my platform has been on a much lower level - business ventures based largely in the Wellington region, local grant-making committees, church initiatives, mentoring and other volunteer activities. I never thought that as a 17-year-old I would be offered the opportunity to make a real impact on a national level - influencing policies, developing initiatives, and connecting with Pacific youth across the country.
Q. What role have you played in the initiative?
A. Being involved in the Kau Tulī initiative has been so exciting, from developing our individual initiative ideas and plans, to working together for our 14-Day Wellbeing Challenge social media takeover on @pacificaotearoa. Personally, I am really looking forward to facilitating business and innovation related opportunities for Pacific youth in line with goal four of Lalanga Fou through my own initiative. I have loved learning from the other Kau Tulī members. Each one of them inspires me in different ways, and I am constantly in awe of their achievements, skills, self-awareness, confidence, and empathy. We all bring such unique lived experiences and passions to the table, and I am so grateful for all I have learnt and experienced already as part of the KT6 team.
Q. What are your hopes and dreams for Pacific people in New Zealand?
A. My aspiration for Pacific young people is for them to realise their passion and potential. If I did not have the opportunities I have had, right now I would be doing first year health science, a totally different person, and probably not very happy. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to realise my passion for business, economics and entrepreneurship when I did, and I want to facilitate this for other Pacific young people who may not have the opportunity otherwise. I hope to utilise this amazing platform to achieve these outcomes, and to see an Aotearoa where Pacific people can define success for themselves, are proud and confident, and at the forefront of innovating and change-making.
Q. What does a Pacific Aotearoa of confident, thriving, resilient young people look like to you?
A. It is where Pacific young people have opportunities to exercise innovation and realise their passion and skills, particularly in the business and entrepreneurship space. Where our young people who are aspiring to lead, identifying problems and innovating, and motivated to succeed are inspired and enabled. Where pathways to a broad range of careers and entrepreneurial jobs are accessible and achievable for Pacific youth, with higher satisfaction and success in their future paths. I envision young Pacific leaders, artists, entrepreneurs, analysts, explorers, and advocates realising their passion and potential, with the confidence, support, skills, and opportunities to achieve their dreams.
Q. Where do you hope to see yourself in five years?
A. Five years is a long time, and I am trusting in God’s plan for my life, but I hope to have grown in areas of self-confidence, critical thinking, and self-awareness. I also hope to have graduated university, maintained involvement in impactful initiatives, and be pursuing a career in business development (specifically purpose-driven enterprise), whether this in a start-up, corporate or in the public sector.