Relocating to New Zealand from Tonga was not an easy decision for Sisifa Lui’s family to make, yet the move in 2011 has been a huge blessing.
Sisifa, who hails from Vava’u, Tongatapu, Levuka and Rotuma, and was born and raised in Tonga, says her family moved to Aotearoa so she could further her education and broaden her career pathways.
The third year AUT Law and Arts student has spent her summer interning at the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP), as part of the Tupu Tai Pasifika Public Sector Summer Internship Programme.
“I was first introduced to Tupu Tai through a roadshow tour,” Sisifa explains.
“This internship is a gateway of opportunities for young and mature Pacific peoples to gain experience in the public sector.
“It is so important for Tupu Tai to exist because it recognises Pacific peoples’ potential, skills and voices at the table of decisions.”
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) facilitates the 11-week internship programme, which is supported by 21 agencies who have taken on summer interns.
Spending her summer at MPP has been insightful and rewarding, maunly due to the people, Sisifa says.
“There has never been a moment where I have felt left out, insignificant or unsure of my place with the Ministry and I am constantly inspired by the work ethic of our Policy team.
“When I applied for Tupu Tai, MPP was my priority preference and I was honestly stoked when I was offered a place there.
“I do not regret my choice and if I had a chance to do this internship again, I would still choose MPP.”
The internship has benefitted Sisifa in many ways, but mainly by providing a Pacific policy framework to work with, such as Kapasa which helps to navigate the world of policy with a vision on what benefits our communities, she adds.
On January 31, Tupu Tai interns and agency representatives, including the Minister for Pacific Peoples Hon. Aupito William Sio, gathered at Parliament in Wellington for a celebration, marking the end of the internships, and to recognise the accomplishments of the interns and their desire to grow the potential of Pacific peoples.
Following the internship, Sisifa will continue her studies at AUT and start her role as AUT’s Student Association President for 2020-2022.
“I have a lot of challenges ahead of me but from what I have learnt at this ministry is if our ancestors can navigate unknown waters, I can achieve any unknown steps in this lifetime.”