The community-owned Nelson Tasman Pasifika Community Trust’s (NTPCT) priorities are determined by the community it serves.
It is an organisation that supports and advocates for Pacific people in the Nelson region and puts the community’s needs first, says General Manager Jennifer Beatson.
“We are passionate about community self-determination and community development sits behind all our projects,” she adds.
For over 20 years, NTPCT was a voluntary organisation, but since 2016, it has been operating as a service provider.
The Trust’s years dedicated to the Pacific community were recognised at the Toloa Awards in Christchurch, hosted by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) recently.
It received Toloa Community Funding to put towards encouraging Pacific people to study STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects and enter STEM careers.
Jennifer, whose role it is to oversee staff and ensure they deliver programmes which match with the community’s priorities, says the Trust’s current focus is on education and health.
“STEM is part of our wider education programme which focuses on three key strategies around Learner Achievement, Parent Engagement and Cultural Responsiveness from Schools,” she explains.
“This year we are partnering with the Ministry of Inspiration to deliver the Aquabots Journey across the Pacific.”
The Aquabots Journey Across the Pacific uses all the STEM subjects, in a fun hands-on way; with students designing, building, testing, redesigning and finally competing with their robots underwater.
Students race around the Pacific stopping in at various islands to collect and trade items such as sugar cane, kava and pearls and learning about the various countries along the way.
This year, the Trust applied for some of the $100,000 allocated to the 2019 Toloa Community Fund to help clarify what careers within STEM fields look like.
“By allowing our students and their families the chance to see the hands-on practical application of the STEM subjects in the robotics programme, we will hopefully open their eyes to the opportunities out there,” Jennifer says.
Mathematics is the basis of most subjects, even the arts, and it is vital children have a good grounding in it, she adds.
“Science, Technology and Engineering are areas of knowledge needed in the future, and if our children can gain skills in these areas we know they will be on the path to the future our families dreamt of when they moved, or sent us, to New Zealand.”