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Atia'e le Afolau celebrates Pacific graduates

Atia'e le Afolau celebrates Pacific graduates

  • 05 Dec 2022
Atiae le Afolau Graduation Article 2

Kick-starting rewarding and sustainable career paths for young Pacific people in Aotearoa is the goal of a brand-new programme introduced by Downer NZ in partnership with the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP).

Atia’ele Afolau is a programme targeted at Pacific young adults aged between 17 and 24 to start them off on their career pathway into the civil infrastructure sector.

A ceremony was held at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium on Friday for the young Pacific people who were graduating from the programme.

The event was attended by Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio, who said he was impressed by the young graduates he had met.

“We have begun this partnership with Downer so that we can support our young people into meaningful careers,” Aupito William Sio said.

“The graduates have learned new skills, formed new connections and their future is bright.

“My advice to them now is to seize this opportunity, be proud of it and realise your fullest potential so you can contribute not just to your own family, but to the wider community.”

The group of Pacific graduates spent the week of 28 November to 2 December on Waiheke Island with Downer’s Corporate Social Outcomes team, attending a series of classroom-based workshops.

They have gained qualifications as well as essential skills such as confidence-building, decision-making, communication skills, building resilience, financial advice and wellbeing - all through a Fonofale model lens.

Fonofale promotes a holistic view of health that symbolises the wholeness of a Pasifika person.

The programme is designed for participants to head into permanent employment at Downer.

Graduates are then further supported through the award-winning In Work Success programme, and signed on to an NZQA qualification.

Downer’s Executive General Manager Zero Harm, Barry Bignell, says, “We are very proud of our graduates today, and we’re excited to welcome them all into the Downer whānau now they have gained new technical skills.

“We are also very excited to be partnering with the Ministry for Pacific Peoples, whose support was integral to the launch of this pilot programme. We are looking forward to delivering more of these programmes and bringing more of our Pacific community into great roles within our industry.”

What does Atia’ele Afolau mean?

The purpose of Atia'ele Afolau is to develop and build the potential of young Pacific People.

Atia’ele Afolau (Samoan) translates to Developing the Afolau.

Atia’e loosely translates to develop, and Afolau is taken from the type of houses used for storing long distance ships - Fale Afolau (of that of a canoe).

The term Folau (meaning to voyage) helps to connect the navigation story of Pacific Peoples or Tangata o le Moana (People of the sea).

In this instance the Afolau is in reference to young, aspiring Pacific People who will navigate their way through their Downer journey.

It truly does take a village to faule fale (build the house).

Atia’ele Afolau is about building a strong foundation, ensuring our pou stand strong and we are offered shelter in the support from those involved in the programme. 

It also acknowledges that there will be skilled people involved during the journey, this includes trainers, facilitators, mentors, supportive managers and the wider Downer NZ family.

About Downer  

Downer is the leading provider of integrated services in Australia and New Zealand and customers are at the heart of everything it does. It exists to create and sustain the modern environment and its promise is to work closely with its customers to help them succeed, using world-leading insights and solutions to design, build and sustain assets, infrastructure and facilities.

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