Home is where the heart is, and Elena Nukulasi’s (pictured) love for Tuvalu is evident in all she does.
Born and raised in Tuvalu on Nukulaele Island by her Rotuman and Tuvalu father and mother, who is of Tuvalu, Kiribati and Chinese heritage, Elena spent many of her childhood years apart from her parents, and away from her homeland.
“I spent six years at boarding school in Tuvalu but on a different island and five years at James Cook University in Townsville while I completed a Bachelor of Economics (majoring in Economics),” Elena explains.
“I also completed my MA in Economics from the University of the South Pacific in Fiji, away from home.”
Nowadays, Elena is based in Aotearoa, working at Auckland’s Monte Cecilia Housing Trust as a Financial Literacy Coach, as well as running her own consultancy business from home with her husband after working hours.
Despite the Pacific Ocean creating distance between her homeland and New Zealand, Tuvalu is never far from Elena’s mind, and she is heavily involved in Tuvalu community of Aotearoa.
As an advocate for Tuvalu, its language and culture, Elena has recently been named a 2021 Tuvalu Language Champion, honours introduced as part of this year’s Pacific Language Week series.
Elena received the accolade during Tuvalu Language Week, which ran from September 26 to October 2.
For eight years, Elena was the Tuvalu Village Coordinator at Pasifika Festival before stepping down in November 2018.
“As the Tuvalu Village Coordinator, I was responsible for planning and developing the village programme; coordinating the village activities to ensure the successful showcasing of Tuvalu culture and traditions; submitting a village budget before the festival; and providing financial report at the end of the festival.
“I also serve the Tuvalu community by working together with the officials of the Tuvalu Community Trust to run and facilitate workshops on Financial Literacy and Capability – we have been doing this for many years now.”
The workshops are delivered in the Tuvalu language for Tuvalu people to understand, Elena adds.
“I share my skills, knowledge and experience with our people by helping them understand the importance of money, how to manage money, reduce debts or get rid of debts, plan their finances, set financial goals and make informed financial decisions.
“We also cover and discuss a variety of other topics including business management and homeownership in New Zealand - the workshops are powerful in empowering our community people to make changes in their family lives and financial situations.”
Elena helps the Tuvalu community in other ways including providing business support to Tuvalu entrepreneurs; and working as a Licensed Immigration Adviser, where she offers advice to Tuvalu people in the language.
Receiving a Tuvalu Language Champion honour has made Elena even more proud to be from Tuvalu.
“I believe the values and culture our parents have instilled in us will not be seen unless we show it through our actions.
“So, this is a reminder for myself, my children and anyone, that whatever we do, we shall give it our best while proudly carrying your identity.
“I am passionate about helping and empowering our community people. One small act of kindness can go a long way – I feel content knowing I have made a difference in someone’s life by empowering them.”