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Meet Cam Young – southern representative for Kau Tulī

Meet Cam Young – southern representative for Kau Tulī

  • 03 May 2020
Cam Pic 1

Meet Cam Young – southern representative for Kau Tulī.  

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. 

The group aims to help 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. 

Cam (pictured) hails from the Cook Islands, Samoa and Scotland and is says he is on a journey to self-acceptance and self-love, a reality which drives his work in the Pacific youth community.

Q. Can you describe your background?

A. I am the tallest and youngest of six children but not the cheekiest. Mum raised us primarily by herself, in the gorgeous region of Hawke's Bay. I am a 2000's baby, so grew up on the tail-end of Sing Star, Tamagotchi's and Mrs Doubtfire (#ifykyk). 

Q. What are you currently studying?

A. In 2019, I retired my role of Head Boy of Karamu High School to pursue a Bachelor of Science at the University of Otago. I major in Anatomy and minor in Pacific Islands Studies - a combination of my nerdy-ness and passions. 

Q. What does it mean to be involved with Kau Tulī?

A. I am still amazed to be part of Kau Tulī. Who am I, but a typical akava'ine (fa'afafine) boy from a small town? My scope has always been aimed at small church circles, groups at school, or minor community campaigns. Kau Tulī has provided me the first opportunity to see Pacific peoples at a national level, and the effect macro-level policies and campaigns have on meso-organisations and micro-level individuals like you and me. It is an absolute honour, and I thank my Heavenly Father always for this unique space I can grow in. 

Q.How has the Kau Tulī takeover (from April 23 until May 7) of @pacificaotearoa Instagram gone?

A. This new social media initiative is exciting for me. It is the first operational task we have carried out together, and it is humbling to interact with the public via the @pacificaotearoa Instagram story. Quite honestly, I have already learnt a lot from this experience. I have been critically called out not once, but twice, for the content I have posted. The content was from the perspective of my health sciences background, something I had forgotten many are not privileged to have had. It was a reminder for me to check my privilege - a necessary (if not shocking) moment of personal growth in my journey with Kau Tulī. It is moments of learning like these, no matter how difficult it seems at the time, I appreciate most from this role. After all, change in the community must begin within yourself first. 

Q. What drives you to work for the wellbeing and prosperity of Pacific people in New Zealand?

A. In 2017, I came out to my friends and family as gay. Being raised in a Christian household, as well as being a Pacific person, caused identity complications and a strain on my mental health. Could I be both gay and an honest Christian, both feminine and a respectable Pacific male? Three years later, I am still on my journey to self-acceptance and self-love. It is this reality that drives my work in the Pacific youth community. I do not want anyone - Pacific or Christian or queer - to feel worthless, alone and insignificant. I do not want any child to believe their self-worth or self-image is determined by others' opinions. I do not want anyone to believe the only option is to take their own life, rather than face the immense pressures of our society. 

Q. Who or what inspires you to help others?

A. My decisions and actions are driven by the values instilled in me by my mother and grandparents. Faith in God; confidence in myself; service to others; critical thinking; generosity - these are a few traits I saw in my role models around me, which I try build my own character with. Above all, a fiery love and resilient heart is what has made my mum the greatest superhero in my life. She has made incredible sacrifices for myself and my siblings, to ensure we get the best opportunities possible. No matter what life throws at her, she always bounces back - always for us, always for her kids. 

Q. What are your aspirations for Pacific people in New Zealand?

A. I hope to encourage a future of self-love, mutual respect, and mentorship for young children like me - gay, Christian or of Pacific descent. As the Lalanga Fou goal four states, I hope these youth build the confidence needed to accept themselves; are able to thrive within their communities and support those around them; and to strengthen that same resilience our ancestors valued when they navigated the Pacific Ocean. Is this too much to hope for? I think not. I already see our beautiful youth speaking up, loudly and proudly, in Western spaces. They are voyagers and leaders, artists and musicians, global-thinkers and entrepreneurs. They are our ancestors' wildest dreams. I am proud to stand among them. 

Q. What do you think you will be doing in five years’ time?

A. In five years, I have no doubt I will still be studying. I have found such passion and happiness in education - he mana tō tē mātouranga, knowledge really is strength. God willing, my journey will take me on to post-graduate studies. Moreover, there is a great need of study around Pacific peoples, our biological science, and developmental theories. That may sound boring, but I get excited just thinking about it.