Tua dedicates honour to Samoan people

To’aletai David Tua never sought to be rewarded for his work in the community.

So when he was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit this June, the honour was all the more meaningful.

A Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit since 2001 for services to boxing, To’aletai was appointed an Officer in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to youth, boxing and the community.

“That honour is for the people, I will never take credit for it," he told the Samoa Observer during an interview on Friday.

To'aletai said he accepted it on behalf of his parents, his wife, and his people here in Samoa.

“The pathfinders, those who have gone before, the unsung heroes."

Retired from professional boxing since 2013, he is now changing lives out of his gym in Onehunga, Auckland.

“Our life is a life of service, either through sports, the community, family, churches.

“I’ve always seen my father and mother serve our family faithfully and honourably, and now it’s my time. It’s an amazing feeling, it’s very rewarding."

Some of the issues To'aletai is tackling in his community are homelessness, mental health and youth suicide.

He also tries to give migrants to New Zealand someone they can connect and relate to.

To'aletai said he gets a real feeling of satisfaction from his work.

“If you can help one person, it becomes a ripple effect."

He said it's not about making people reliant on help, but empowering them to help themselves and others.

To'aletai has also provided the David Tua Leaders Programme since 2014, to which children are referred by local schools.

“Most of these kids are from challenging backgrounds," he said.

The children take part in boxing sessions, and are given a safe space to share their stories over 12 weeks before they graduate.

At the graduation ceremony, they receive their badge and certificate from their parents.

“It’s a family approach," To'aletai said.

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