Talanoa aims to provide a voice for Pacific youth

posted: 8:45 pm - 1st September 2019
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(Picture caption: A panel of Pacific youth discuss the Pacific Mission, and issues affecting the region's young people at the Post Pacific Mission Youth Talanoa.) 

The fast growing and diverse population of Pacific young people is highly valued by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP). 

With over 50 percent being under 25 years old, availing a platform for the Pacific representatives to share their insights is a valuable tool to empower and inspire Pacific young people. 

The Post Pacific Mission Youth Talanoa event held on August 30 at Māngere Arts Centre provided such a platform for all those who were part of the Pacific Mission in June, led by Foreign Minister Rt Hon. Winston Peters. 

It was also an opportunity for Minister for Pacific Peoples Hon. Aupito William Sio and the delegation to share their learnings, insights and experiences from the trip with other Pacific youth, leaders in the sector and youth providers. 

The idea is to keep the conversation started during the Mission to Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands going, Minister Sio says. 

“Part of that mission was about affirming our place as a Pacific nation – geographically, demographically, economically, and culturally too,” he shares.    

“Aotearoa is a part of a family of Pacific nations and, like any family we have a duty to act in a way that benefits all members - youth engagement was part of this.” 

Although acknowledged as the leaders of the future, many Pacific youth are showing great leadership now, and in part, the talanoa hosted by MPP aimed to give these young people a voice, the Minister adds. 

Over 150 attendees – 100 of which were Pacific young people - from around the country heard keynote speaker and youth leader Aigagalefili Fepulea’i-Tupa’i (pictured below) from Aorere College address climate change, and issue she is truly passionate about, at the talanoa. 

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Aigagalefili recently won the 2019 New Zealand Story-Tellers Competition, with her emotive speech Waiting for Water

Asena Tolungamaka, a 2018 Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Award winner and youth delegate on the Pacific Mission was part of a panel discussion which also featured Mabel Muller, who was among the media delegation to Vanuatu and the Solomons, along with Tagata Pasifika Camera Operator Nayte Matai’a-Davidson.

Macson Gebe and Elsie Polosovai from the Solomon Islands also joined the panel discussion to share their experiences of growing up in the islands, and to discuss pressing issues for youth in the region such as lack of future opportunities, poverty and how the voices of young Pacific people can be heard in decision making.

A number of young innovators set up stalls at the Arts Centre, to showcase the important work they do in the community. 

Stall holders included start-up business and beauty supply store Panikeke.com – a , founded by 21-year-old Keith Toma, who was one of this year’s Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Award winners. 

The young entrepreneur collected a $10,000 business grant after winning the Pacific Business Trust Business and Entrepreneurship category. 

Led by a past Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Award recipient, the Mafaufau Project was also present at the talanoa. 

The Mafaufau Project is a platform which supports mental health wellbeing in Pacific communities, through its work with young men in selected Auckland high schools.    

Sisters United, a family based charitable organisation that provides a range of services for young women between 12 years to 21 years in Auckland were among the stall holders sharing information on the night, as well as Tupu Aotearoa Providers and NZQA – NCEA ma le Pasifika.   

One of the four goals in the Pacific Vision, Lalanga Fou report published last year focuses on young people, and currently, MPP is looking at how young people can be better included in decision-making processes on issues right across government. 

Events such as this Post Pacific Mission Youth Talanoa are invaluable to the Ministry, as they strive to achieve the four Lalanga Fou goals, and enable Pacific people in Aotearoa to live full, prosperous lives.