Samoan advocates for Pasifika youth
A Samoan who is part of a youth advisory group that works with a New Zealand government ministry giving voice to Pasifika youth is cherishing the opportunity.
Fredwyn Kisona is a member of the Kau Tulī, which is an external youth advisory group that works with the Ministry for Pacific Peoples, to ensure that the voices of young Pacific people are heard.
The group was established in 2019 and is made up of six members all hailing from different parts of New Zealand representing various Pacific cultures. The members are Jess Reiher, Okirano Tilaia, Cam Young, Leorida Peters and Arizona Ledger.
Mr Kisona is the eldest member of Kau Tulī and is a Samoan-Tokelauan living in Porirua, New Zealand. He is the son of Aki and the late Helen Kisona and is currently part of a research team at a firm called Ichor Leadership Search.
In response to questions from the Samoa Observer, Mr Kisona says that the role of Kau Tulī is to offer perspective and advice covering the impacts of culture and identity, education, employment and mental wellbeing for Pacific young people in Aotearoa.
"I feel our goal is to ensure the voices of young Pacific people are heard, especially around informing decisions and delivering initiatives that affect us directly. Our young people should not just be the voices of the future, we need to be the voices of today,” he said.
In collaboration with the Ministry for Pacific Peoples, the group helps to inform and shape the Ministry's response to achieving goal four of Lalanga Fou and the Pacific Aotearoa vision to have "confident, thriving and resilient Pacific young people".
Moreover, Mr Kisona said that Kau Tulī is in place to help the Ministry respond to goal four of the Lalanga Fou.
"It is a document comprising over a year’s worth of interaction and engagement with over 2,500 Pacific people across New Zealand – Individuals from community organisations, youth, people with disabilities, businesses, non-governmental organisations and churches. As a result of these engagements, four goals were identified to achieve the Ministry of Pacific People’s vision.”
The Ministry has given each member of the Kau Tulī an opportunity to create and deliver their own initiatives that look to empower Pacific youth in Aotearoa, according to Mr Kisona.
He emphasised that different topics are addressed as they (members) are all from different backgrounds and communities who have different needs.
"So far, topics that are being addressed have been inspired by the Fonofale model covering the different types of wellbeing (physical, mental, cultural, environmental, spiritual)," he said. “The overall hope of Kau Tulī is to empower young Pacific people and communities. I also believe this is a movement for all government organisations to take notice of and realise how valuable it is for young people to have a seat of influence at the decision-making table.”