As a child, Janelle Augsburg watched her nana serve her community with so much heart, she quickly learnt the importance of caring for your village so together you can prosper.
Janelle has followed in her grandmother’s footsteps, and has chosen to live her life, dedicated to serving her community.
She has recently joined the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) ‘aiga, as an Advisor in the Northern Regional Partnerships Team, and is determined to ensure the work she does at MPP has the Pacific community at the heart of it all.
“I am so honoured to be in the position I am in and have learnt so much from my team and the wider Ministry already,” Janelle says.
“My biggest learning is seeing how closely the Ministry works with our Pasifika communities, and I have met so many amazing people who are creating initiatives and working so hard to benefit our Pasifika people.”
Born and raised in South Auckland suburb Mangere by her Tongan mother, Janelle says she has always known about MPP but the first time she really interacted with the Ministry was at last year’s Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Awards when she received the Auckland Council Community Star Award.
“I have always been involved in my community, I began volunteering at Edmund Rice Camps in high school and now sit on the committee as Vice Chairperson and Policy Officer.
“Most recently I have been working with My Story under South Seas Healthcare Trust.”
While she learnt the significance of service from her nana, it was her mother who drummed into her the importance of a good education.
Janelle attended Baradene College, before setting off for the University of Auckland to study a conjoint degree in Law and Arts double majoring in Pacific Studies and Politics and International Relations.
In late November, Janelle’s hard work paid off, when she was admitted to the bar.
“I received a message on the morning of my admission thanking me for carrying our family with me.
“Standing in Auckland’s High Court and being admitted to the bar was such a special moment for me but especially for my family.
“I am the first from both sides of my family to have studied Law, I stood even taller knowing my family was behind me and I was wearing heirlooms that had been passed down generations.
“My favourite Tongan proverb is ‘pikipiki hama kae vaevae manava’ which broadly means, ‘bind our canoes together so that we can share life,’ being admitted was just as much my family’s achievement as it was mine.”
The opportunities Janelle was presented with were due to the sacrifices her family made, and she says this was her strength during her studies.
“I worked to help at home, my first job during university was as an usher at Eden Park, I was then blessed to be able to move into mentoring roles for our Pasifika youth through MATES Mentoring and UniBound.
“My heart for my community meant I often stretched myself thin, but I pushed myself knowing how important it was to support our community.”
While she has always struggled to know what her long-term work aspirations might look like, Janelle says she knows for certain she will always go where her community needs her – starting at MPP.