A student of the Masters of Human Rights programme at AUT, with a focus on Indigenous Rights and Employment Rights, Arizona Ariki Nofoali’i Leger is excited to be part of Kau Tulī because of the innovative approach it has towards mobilising the Pacific youth voice.
Arizona is a northern region representative for the group, which 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.
Kau Tulī also helps to inform and shape the Ministry for Pacific Peoples’ (MPP) response to achieving goal four of Lalanga Fou and the Pacific Aotearoa vision of having Confident, Thriving and Resilient Pacific young people.
The 24-year-old is keen to use her opportunity with Kau Tulī to both serve and learn from the communities that continue to raise her.
Q. What is your background?
A. My name is Arizona Ariki Nofoali’i Leger. I come from a Māori-European mother and a Samoan, Tongan, Fijian father. I whakapapa to Te Rarawa here in Aotearoa, Navutu and Lautoka in Fiji, Nuku'alofa in Tonga and Nofoali’i and Vaiusu in Samoa. I have two younger brothers, Orbyn, 23, and 15-year-old Ingram. I was born in New Zealand and lived in Glen Eden at both my grandparents' houses and then our house, before mum got her first teaching job at Wesley College. We moved to the school site when I was five. I was raised onsite at Wesley College for 13 years which saw me grow up in a community of teachers, students, and classrooms. It was a special upbringing and I am constantly grateful for the people who raised me at the ‘farm’ as they played a massive role in my life. I spent my junior years of high school at Sonninghill Boarding House at Hamilton Girls High School and then made the move to Epsom Girls Grammar School in year 11 where I boarded at Epsom House. In year 13, I was presented the Head Girl role of Epsom Girls Grammar School.
Q. What is your current occupation?
A. As well as studying full-time at AUT, I also work casually for Reconnect Family Services as a residential youth worker with our young men involved in our Youth Justice and Care and Protection systems.
Q. Why did you want to get involved with Kau Tuli?
A. The call to be involved with Kau Tulī excited me because of the innovative approach it had towards mobilising our Pacific youth voice and impact. I personally wanted to be involved because it was an opportunity to both serve and learn from the communities that continue to raise me.
Q. What role have you played in the initiative?
A. I feel as though we have been a fusion of tuakana and teina for each other throughout the Kau Tulī process. We have all had moments to lead, listen, learn, or do all three. I really enjoy the various strengths and passions of our representatives but what I enjoy most is that we have a central focus on wanting to amplify the voice of our youth in the spaces that they are not currently being acknowledged in. More specifically, I know my arena within the Kau Tulī has been focused on the awareness of our human rights and the inclusion of our females within the labour force.
Q. What outcomes do you hope to achieve with this initiative?
A. Understanding our duties of being the first pilot trial, I wholeheartedly hope that we do an honourable job so more of our young people get the opportunity to thrive in the Kau Tulī for many more years. I would also hope through our work we are able to contribute towards the goals of Lalanga Fou, particularly Goal 4. On a personal level, I hope to have begun my human rights mentoring programme with our young women in schools by the end of our year with Kau Tulī.
Q. What are your hopes and dreams for Pacific people in New Zealand?
A. I would love for our young people to feel completely comfortable in their own skin and identity and furthermore, understand how they can help others feel that same confidence. Being a child of a Māori-European mother and a Samoan-Tongan-Fijian father, I have always struggled to find my place of belonging in our society. It is a constant battle of never feeling enough of a culture so I can share my love and pride for who I am. This is a feeling I would never want for our fellow and future Pacific peoples, especially those who are of mixed backgrounds. So, my biggest hope for our Pacific people is we continue to enable spaces and opportunities to allow each other to be proud Pacific people.
Q. With regards to Lalanga Fou Goal 4 - what do you envision this being? (Goal 4: Confident, Thriving, Resilient Young People).
A. I envision this goal as a collective effort of our village. Our villages play such an important role in ensuring that we provide the appropriate love, support, and guidance for our young people to engage the best versions of themselves. Goal 4 is about ensuring inter-generational gaps are mended so our families are creating environments for our young people to be confident, thriving, and resilient. Goal 4 is also about holding our governmental spaces accountable to their actions and ensuring that legislation, actions, and curriculum reflect the voices of our young people, so they can genuinely succeed. Finally, we have so many confident, thriving, resilient young people who are yearning for the right mentoring, platforms, and opportunities to progress to the next stage of their journey. Goal 4 is about ensuring these steppingstones are not only provided but are also provided through suitable and appropriate means that connect and encourage our young people to thrive.
Q. Where do you hope to see yourself in five years?
A. Firstly, I hope to still be able to enjoy the company of the people I love (including my grandparents). Secondly, I would double love to have taken the time to soak myself in the stories, mother tongue and culture of the places I whakapapa back to. Thirdly, in five years, I would love for my work to be centred around my passion, which is to increase representation and intersectionality within higher spaces of leadership and employment. I would also like to put my learnings from my Masters of Human Rights to good use, ideally through the creation of an NGO that focuses on educating our communities about their rights and connecting them to employment and impact - wow I’d love to be in a space like that. Eventually, though, I would like to explore the diplomatic arena as it really interests me and has always been the goal on the horizon.