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Goal to encourage and empower Pacific communities

Goal to encourage and empower Pacific communities

  • 07 Jul 2019

Instead of sugar-coating messages, providers should be encouraging and empowering Pacific people to shift the way they are thinking says Pacific Educator Tivaini Foma’i. 

The Hastings Boys High School (HBHS) Health and Physical Education Teacher, Pacific Dean and assistant Second XV Coach is well known in the area and presented about what his role and HBHS was doing to help create positive impact for the Pacific community in the region at the Lalanga Fou - Tulī Takes Flight fono staged in Hastings recently. 

Born in Samoa, and raised in New Zealand, Tivaini moved to Hawkes Bay as an 11-year-old, and attended HBHS, where he grew to love rugby and volleyball. 

His passion and skills in rugby saw him represent Hawkes Bay in the ITM Cup, and Manu Samoa on the international stage. 

Tivaini is heavily involved in the Hawkes Bay community – serving at Bay City Church with his wife Moira, and also with the work he does with Pacific youth as a Teacher and Dean at HBHS. 

The Pacific community and Pacific achievement is valued at HBHS and the school is focused on engaging with its members through various initiatives. 

“We run three Pasifika assemblies each term where we raise and acknowledge Pasifika achievement; we also have invited different local and non-local providers to speak to our Pasifika students about different career pathways,” Tivaini explains. 

Twice a week, Tivaini runs a small Pacific transition/mentoring group, targeting predominantly new migrants who have limited English and understanding of New Zealand culture. 

The idea is to help transition boys through character education and lifestyle change; while also helping to align core values at home, in scripture and school values.  

A Pasifika Power-up programme to help support our students with homework and learning also runs at the school. 

“With this in mind, we hope to engage our parents and encourage them to take part in the learning process of their child,” Tivaini says. 

Hastings Boys High School has established its own Pacific YouTube channel and it is looking at using social media to reach Pacific families to inform them about up-coming events, school notices and learning strategies for parents. 

“We also promote Tama-Akina on the platforms as well, to acknowledge any Pacific student who has done well.” 

Every year, a culture night is staged where the HBHS Pasifika cultural group perform for their parents, community and school staff. 

“We use this as a platform to send positive messages and help challenge our people on the different issues being raised in our community.” 

While grateful for the opportunity to speak at the Lalanga Fou fono on June 29 and voice his opinion and challenge the students’ parents, Tivaini says generally, too many meetings are held and not enough action is taken. 

“However, the fono should be used to expose some of the providers which many of our people do not know about. 

“I do not see the purpose of any meeting if we don’t take action of the things we say we do.” 

There are many outcomes Tivaini would like to see emerge from the fono being staged around the country, but the main one is that Pacific people open their eyes to the opportunities in front of them. 

“We as the providers should be encouraging and empowering our people to shift the way they are thinking. 

“We need to support both our parents, who are currently struggling to make better and healthier choices for their families; as well as our sons and daughters, who should be challenged to break some of the generational patterns which have evolved with our culture.” 

Another important outcome for Tivaini is to hear Pacific young people voice their opinion and express how they are feeling, thinking and moving in Aotearoa. 

“This means we educate our parents on how to interact and communicate with their children, teaching them to listen as well as giving instructions,” Tivaini says. 

“Our children are not heard and we need them to feel empowered and not be fearful.”

Tivaini was one of three presenters at the Hastings Lalanga Fou fono, aimed at allowing the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) to engage with the Pacific communities in regions around New Zealand about what has been happening since the launch of the Pacific Vision, and Lalanga Fou report last year, and how Pacific people feel about their lives in Aotearoa.

He was joined by Olive Tanielu of Hawke’s Bay Pasifika Health Team and Charles Faletutulu, of the Hawke’s Bay Pasifika Project.

The next fono will be held on Whanganui on July 12, followed by one in Whangarei on July 15.