Growing demand for what Pacific people bring to the table
(Photo caption: Kau Tulī central representative Fredwyn Kisona is a proud Tokelauan/Samoan hailing from Porirua, an area his family has made their mark in.)
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.
Aged just 26, central region representative Fredwyn Kisona is the oldest member of the group who is helping to 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.
The proud Tokelauan/Samoan hails from Porirua, an area his family has made their mark in.
Q. What is your background?
A. I am the son of Aki and the late Helen Kisona and brother of an energetic 11-year-old sister Analima. Dad’s parents, the late Reverend Fereti and Ailima Kisona were commissioned from American Samoa as Ministers and led one of the first Tokelau churches in New Zealand. Mum’s parents, the late Etueni and Neli Isopo, travelled from Tokelau and were founding Pacific members of the Pacific Islanders’ Congregational Church in Porirua. Papa was a Railway Ganger and Nana worked as an Early Childhood Teacher.
Q. What are you doing currently?
A. There is a little list – I am currently part of the research team at a firm called Ichor Leadership Search. Basically, we work to appoint high performing leaders for a range of organisations. I am getting close to hitting my two-year mark with the company and I have been blessed to be part of a solid team who are very family oriented. Fun fact, Night Security was my first job after graduating (shout out to Te Namo and the Pacific team at Victoria University of Wellington), I still avail myself for shifts when I can alongside some of the most hardworking and humble people. As one of the youth leaders at TPY (Te Papalaulelei Youth) and a member of the OJS (Only Jesus Saves) Youth, my eyes have been opened to how much positive power and influence our young people can have on our communities. This is an area I want to focus on. I am also married to a strong and vibrant Cook Island woman Brienela Tauira. She would be impressed with those words. Being ‘someone’s husband’ is probably the biggest occupation I reckon.
Q. Why did you want to get involved with Kau Tulī?
A. One of my joys is seeing the talent and confidence of our young people shine. I believe the best way to reveal this is to give young people the opportunity to do so. The Kau Tulī initiative supports this, and that is a movement I want to get behind.
Q. What role have you played in the initiative?
A. This is my first time working alongside the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP). I have been exposed to many organisations and the culture of MPP is one I have not yet experienced. It is very fluid, engaging, and warm - very Pacific. I feel my role is to learn about this new environment and to immerse in its purpose.
Q. What outcomes do you hope to achieve with this initiative?
A. Personally, I hope to lift the awareness of how influential our church youth leaders are. I feel this is a space that is overlooked and underestimated by many, even government. Whether you are religious or not, we cannot deny the scope of the church body reaches thousands of Pacific young people, and I believe that is an opportunity. As an outcome I do hope to focus our narrative less on ‘how can we convert this young person to be member of our church?’ and more towards ‘how can we have a positive impact on this young person’s wellbeing?’ Nonetheless, I take my hat off to all our church youth leaders, and I want to acknowledge and honour the work they do.
Q. What are your hopes and dreams for Pacific people in New Zealand?
A. I see our Pacific people thriving in all areas. Whether it is having more Pacific government leaders, entrepreneurs, Chief Executives, stronger presence across all the industries, dance, music (shout out to TH3 GROOV3) or social media. There is something unique about what Pacific people can bring to any table, and New Zealand is in need to see more of it.
Q. What does a Pacific Aotearoa of confident, thriving, resilient young people look like to you?
A. Our parents/parental figures are key in this puzzle. Unfortunately, there are communication barriers that come in the form of language, traditions, and overall generational clashes. I envision a breakthrough of these barriers so there is a strong mutual understanding between our parents and young people, and a solid partnership from the home base.
Q. Where do you hope to see yourself in five years?
A. I have many goals of where I see myself in five years, spiritually, with family, culturally, financially, mentally, and so on. However, to sum it up, I hope to reflect and be genuinely content, knowing I gave my best to every opportunity I was given. I also hope to have created these opportunities not only for myself, but for others.