Ministry for Pacific Peoples — Trust encourages Pacific youth to dream big despite COVID-19     Trust encourages Pacific youth to dream big despite COVID-19     Skip to content

Trust encourages Pacific youth to dream big despite COVID-19    

Trust encourages Pacific youth to dream big despite COVID-19    

  • 16 May 2022
  • |
  • COVID-19
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(Picture caption: Minister for Youth Hon Priyanca Radhakrishnan visits with young men involved with Pro-Pare Athlete Management Trust.) 

For talavou/rangatahi across Aotearoa, past lockdowns caused by the pandemic have impacted schooling, mental wellbeing, family incomes, and even opportunities such as obtaining a driver’s license. 

Founder and Managing Director of Pro-Pare Athlete Management Trust (PAMT) Siaosi Gavet says his organisation observed these challenges, and knew it had to do something to address these issues. 

Serving a population of Pasifika and Māori youth, aged 15-17 who have a keen interest in sport, PAMT is a positive, strengths-based, youth development organisation focused on building on the assets of the talavou/rangatahi. 

“We provide plans and resources to help move youth talavou/rangatahi towards their goals on and off the field,” Siaosi says. 

“The COVID-19 years of 2020, 2021, and now 2022 have been very difficult for this group - sporting opportunities have been very limited due to lockdowns.” 

Siaosi adds this group could also be suspicious of COVID-19 vaccination and public health messaging around it. 

“Social media is a main source of information, and many of the anti-vaccination messages from social media have been echoed by respected adults in the Pacific community. 

“Unvaccinated Pacific youth were becoming isolated at the beginning of 2022 and told they would not be allowed to play sports at school. 

“They were not allowed into a lot of places which was having the unexpected effect of turning unvaccinated into teen heroes – ‘freedom fighters’ and rebels.” 

Young people were finding ways of beating the system, such as using a duplicate of a friend’s vaccine pass, he says. 

To keep these young people engaged with other, vaccinated youth, Siaosi and the PAMT team applied for Pacific Aotearoa Community Outreach support, a fund facilitated by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP). 

The first round of this funding was established in 2021 to enable more frequent and responsive engagements between government and Pacific communities to keep Pacific peoples informed and supported in the transition to the COVID-19 Protection Framework (traffic lights). 

Pro-Pare AMT sought support to raise awareness through information dissemination, to educate Pacific communities on health measures such as the COVID-19 Protection Framework, and deliver talanoa on health, wellbeing and vaccination passes and certificates. 

Siaosi and his team began talanoa with 20 families in Onehunga, Kelston and Richmond-Grey Lynn, and hosted sport training sessions including both vaccinated and unvaccinated youth. 

“Then it came down to managing the group dynamic,” he adds. 

“Ultimately the unvaccinated responded to the reasons their mates had been vaccinated - very often this was to protect grandparents. 

“A surprising number of older Pasifika had declined vaccination and their unvaccinated grandchildren, while convinced they would be ‘all good’ if infected with COVID-19, were not so certain that grandpa would do well if they passed the infection onto him.” 

Looking ahead, Siaosi and PAMT wish to establish processes and pathways allowing Pasifika youth to transition into adulthood in a country where COVID-19 will continue to exist and where future restrictions, including lockdowns, are possible. 

“For Pro-Pare, it is not just about vaccination and compliance with public health advice and orders - there is much more to the Pacific life than this. 

“We want Pasifika youth to succeed in education and to dream big and make it big, despite COVID-19. 

“Our talavou/rangatahi are strongly attracted by the belonging of our programmes – they feel welcome, safe, and part of a group of like-hearted individuals who have overcome many obstacles within their Foafoa environment,” Siaosi says. 

Applications for the Pacific Aotearoa Community Outreach Omicron Fund are currently open, and close on June 30, 2022. APPLY HERE.