Aureliarotesa (Tessa) Letaulia Feomaia (pictured) and her husband Teleste moved to New Zealand with the desire to create a better future, and Tupu Aotearoa has helped them to achieve that goal and more.
Both Tessa and Teleste have found employment through the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) initiative, which connects Pacific people with local providers, who then support them to access work or learning opportunities on their journey to employment, further training or study.
“Tupu Aotearoa showed me opportunities that were, and are still in store for me,” Tessa says.
Born in Samoa, Tessa was raised by her grandmother, and attended The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter – Day Saints (LDS) College from 2000 – 2006 where she had to always speak her second language, English, or head to detention.
After graduating from secondary school, Tessa attended the National University of Samoa for one year studying Economics and Sociology, before leaving to work at a shop where she helped with marketing and sales.
Tessa met Teleste in 2010, before heading to California to serve the people there for 18 months under The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter – Day Saints.
“We were married in 2015… and in 2018 decided to move to New Zealand in search for a better future for us and our families,” she says.
The move to Aotearoa was a challenging and costly journey, but Tessa adds it has been all worth it.
When they reached New Zealand, the couple initially moved to Marton, as Teleste had contract work, but Tessa had difficulties finding a job.
A friend connected Tessa with Horowhenua Learning Centre (HLC) and Tupu Aotearoa Navigator Fraser Daysh, who travelled to Marton to help the couple relocate to Levin, where jobs were more plentiful.
“Teleste soon got a job at Turks Poultry for a month through the Tupu Aotearoa programme, and now he is working at Oji Fibre Solution,” Tessa explains.
With Tupu Aotearoa and HLC’s guidance, Tessa began working at Te Ata Kura (Alternative Education) under Whaioro Trust as an Administrator.
“It was such a wonderful experience, where it opened my eyes to see the world of New Zealand through the eyes of teenagers.”
Fraser kept in close contact with Tessa and Teleste, and when an opening arose at HLC for a Tupu Aotearoa Employment Consultant, he asked Tessa if she would be interested in applying for it.
“I was very excited and asked him to forward me the job description - I immediately started getting all my papers ready to apply.
“In two hours, my application was sent and I received an email in less than 30 minutes for an interview the following week.
“I cried tears of joy even when I did not know the outcome of the interview yet.”
Tessa was successful however, and is now busy in her role offering training, career planning and guidance to clients to enable them to secure an employment or enrol in higher education.
“I know this will benefit the clients but also their family and community.
“I also see this role as making sure Pacific people understand there are many opportunities for them in New Zealand to help them achieve their goals.”
If the couple had not joined Tupu Aotearoa, Tessa says they would still be in Marton, struggling to find an enjoyable job, in a foreign country.
“My husband and I are always talking about how Tupu Aotearoa has been a blessing for us both through the things we have gained and earned, but mostly helping us achieve our goal for a better future.”
Tupu Aotearoa Manager (Manawatū-Whanganui/ Hawke's Bay) Rhia Taonui says to go from being a client to now spreading the Tupu Aotearoa beliefs and values is a blessing for the Pacific community in Horowhenua.
“I think HLC’s pastoral care towards Tessa and her journey in Tupu Aotearoa has gone beyond what I could expect of them – and the value of relationship on their part, to continue to build prosperous Pacific communities,” Rhia says.