Aldrina Polataivao (pictured) has some hefty career aspirations ahead of her, all of which involve making a positive difference for Pacific peoples in New Zealand and throughout the region.
The 21-year-old Samoan Victoria University Commerce and Law student has been interning at the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) during the summer, as part of the TupuToa programme.
TupuToa is an innovative internship programme creating pathways for Pacific and Māori students into careers in the corporate and professional sectors.
After successfully applying for the programme last year, Aldrina was offered to be a part of the MPP aiga as an Intern Advisor for the Northern Regional Partnerships Team.
During her time at MPP, Aldrina says she has flourished and grown as an advocate and advisor for youth related issues within Pacific communities across Aotearoa.
“I’ve participated in events, initiatives and projects led by my awesome team, and in the first week of my internship, I was a source of support for the Disability Fono at the Northern Office,” Aldrina says.
“This was my first interaction with one of many New Zealand Pacific communities, as an intern for MPP, where the exchange between the Ministry and the people we serve was very inspiring and moving.”
Aldrina says the experiences and the lessons she has learnt at MPP have shaped the way she thinks about ways to advance social and economic prosperity for Pacific people.
“It is well-known Pacific people go above and beyond for our people - we serve our people wholeheartedly with respect and with care.
“As a young and proud Pasifika woman, I’ve learnt within this Ministry, the significance of using our common acts of service as an advantage to create Pacific-led solutions.
“By moving forward, I know that including the essence of tautua in my work ethic and throughout my professional career – that the outcomes of this will always be successful.”
Tautua expresses the Samoan cultural tradition of service to family, an individual or group to a greater purpose.
“The reality is I’ll be navigating through different professional environments and I won’t always be in an office with just Pacific people, however, the lessons I’ve gained from working at MPP will be taken with me to all the avenues I explore.”
Following her internship, Aldrina is returning to university, where she will continue working towards aBachelor of Commerce majoring in Public Policy and International Business as well as a Bachelor of Laws.
She says one day, she would like to work in advising and creating policy which builds Pacific economies, cultures and communities.
“I would also like to become a Criminal Lawyer one day and maybe even a Judge.”