Improving the wellbeing of Pacific people is at the heart of Pacific Trust Otago’s (PTO) decision to become a Service Provider for Tupu Aotearoa.
The organisation’s focus is to engage with and support activities to improve the wellbeing of Pacific people in Otago and it also promotes activities and organisations which gives them access to health, education and social services.
Becoming part of the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) Tupu Aotearoa family is a natural fit for PTO, whose Pacific values align with the initiative designed to empower young people to enhance their skills, kick-start their career prospects and earn a good living.
Last year, thanks to the support of the Provincial Growth Fund, the Tupu Aotearoa programme has been expanded from the Auckland and Hamilton metropolitan areas, to further metropolitan areas and regions around the country.
Tupu Aotearoa is connecting Southland’s young Pacific people aged between 15-39 years old to Service Providers, such as PTO, to help them find employment, complete further training or study, and see their communities flourish.
Pacific Trust Otago facilitate the Tupu Aotearoa programme from offices in Dunedin and Invercargill.
Makalita Maka is the Invercargill-based PTO Employment and Training Navigator and she says being educated opens doors to more opportunities.
Born and raised in Tonga, Makalita moved to New Zealand aged 14 to complete her secondary school education.
After gaining a Certificate in Business, she became a young mother – and is now the proud mother of eight as well an active member of the thriving Pacific communities in Southland.
In 2004, Makalita and her children relocated to Invercargill, with the help of church friends, she explains.
“Financially, it was a struggle and I saw an opportunity to pursue study, through the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) Zero Fees Scheme, and then I went onto study for a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Otago.”
“Being educated opens doors to opportunities, to people you meet, the knowledge and understanding and respect you gain - it is very humbling.”
Makalita became heavily involved in helping the Pacific communities in Southland, and over the past two decades, has worked for various organisations including Employment Disputes, Pacific Island Advisory and Cultural Trust, Habitat for Humanity, and Oranga Tamariki in Invercargill.
“I was presented the opportunity to work with Pacific youth at Pacific Trust Otago.
“I made the decision to join PTO based on the hope the support and help we give to our Pacific youth, along with the opportunities presented to them, will help them grow, prosper and have a better future.”
Having worked with many Pacific families, Makalita says she has a good understanding of the struggles they face, having experienced some of them herself.
As the Employment and Training Navigator, she feels privileged to have the opportunity to work with Pacific youth, she adds.
Pacific values, and her faith in God shines through in all her work and she believes pastoral care is essential for young people’s success.
“Although some of our youth are very able, and we empower them to be capable, there are some who need a little more help along the way to get to the next stage.”
It is early days for the Tupu Aotearoa programme and PTO, but there has been interest from the region’s young Pacific people following several community gatherings, and one young woman is now studying at SIT after successfully completing the programme.
Makalita and the PTO team are excited about watching the success of Tupu Aotearoa grow and seeing Southland’s young Pacific people to thrive and prosper.