Pacific people are a growing, youthful and diverse population both in New Zealand and in the Pacific region, and one young leader making waves is Leulua’iali’i Satuala Tofaeono Tanuvasa.
The New Zealand-born Samoan matai from the village of Vaie'e, with connections to Nofoali'i, Siumu, Fagali'i, and Vailima was a recipient at the recent inaugural Pacific Cooperation Foundation (PCF) Youth Leadership Awards.
Held in early December, the awards encourage and reward service leadership to benefit communities in Aotearoa New Zealand, as well as the Pacific region.
Law student and youth leader Leulua’iali’i collected the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) sponsored PCF Top Pasifika Cultural and Language Advocate Award for his leadership and service in his respective community.
His work in the Pacific community is just beginning, he says.
“I aspire to see the Pasifika language and culture thrive in New Zealand,” Leulua’iali’i adds.
“I would love to see New Zealand and regional countries invest in our young people and give them opportunities to grow, and to be able to grow up and live safely in their communities.”
The former Head Boy of Auckland’s St Peter’s College and Youth Member of Parliament is a man of many talents – he is fluent in Samoan and teaches the language at Pacific Education Centre and has published the largest collection of Samoan educational resources under Fuelavelave Press.
“I am a strong advocate for youth and Pasifika culture and recently launched Wonderfully Made, a suicide prevention programme for Pasifika youth,” he says.
“I believe inspiring young people to understand their cultural identity improves their sense of self and relating to others.”
The Samoan proverb, “O le ala i le pule, o le tautua – the pathway to leadership begins with service” is his life mantra, and he says service to others is the essence of greatness and the highest of distinctions.
“My parents always taught me to put God first and everything will fall into place.”
Grateful to live in a haven such as New Zealand, with ample opportunities, Leulua’iali’i says his family has always encouraged him to aim for the stars but keep his feet firmly on the ground.
Leulua’iali’i his recognition at the PCF Awards is humbling, and he is extremely grateful for the honour.
The active church member adds he has plans to continue helping Pacific Aotearoa through service and language.
“I'm an active Parishioner at my church and a member of the Parish Pastoral Council, and I really enjoy teaching and sharing about the Samoan language to youth and my students.
“I give thanks to God for his unending love and blessings and I dedicate this award to young people struggling to learn their culture and language.
“I encourage you to keep growing and learning - I love you all.”