Leadership programme for indigenous women launched in Samoa

The Rise Retreat at the Sinalei Resort comes to an end today after five days as a way to introduce and launch the Rise 2025 Samoa programme.

Rise 2025 is a personal development programme that focuses on coaching and leadership for indigenous women. It was founded in 2015 by Rachel Petero of Waikato, Aotearoa after three years in New Zealand and 16 years abroad in the U.K., Europe and Middle East where she first piloted the programme. Petero now has her sights on expanding this programme to Samoa. 

The Rise Retreat at the Sinalei, which started last weekend, was part introduction with a three-day personal development programme giving the attendees a taster of what the 12-month Rise 2025 programme entailed. It was also planned to give three days of rest and relaxation giving many of the emerging women leaders a chance to be “still”.

 “What we have done first is start with 2025 retreat because we didn’t have time to do the whole programme here in Samoa. So instead, at the retreat we ran a three-day workshop about what the programme is about and we said to everyone, come for the learning but also come for the wellbeing like the massages, swimming and yes even sleeping because some women just needed to sleep.

“It’s been great so far, we are having a fiafia night tonight (yesterday) and share a bit of Maori culture. We had an ava ceremony with the leaders of Siumu on the Sunday which was the first real day of connecting with them.”

Since the programme started, Petero says she has seen tremendous outcomes for women who have gone through the leadership programme starting with her business partner and Rise 2025 Director, Hinemoa Key, who is of Maori and Samoan descent.

“Goodness, I have seen women in community gain so much from this programme including my business partner. Just over a year ago, she was a single mother working three jobs. She came through the programme and today she used the coaching and leadership skills she acquired to work with Sky City Auckland and Fletchers. She is also now the business director for 2025.

“Women in corporate who have gained the leadership skills through Rise 2025 have gone on to negotiate with their employers for a better working schedule that works with the life and their ambitions so that they are able to have at least one or two days a week to concentrate on side projects. It’s about going back home and have the power and the vision to say we can do things differently and then act on it.”

Rachel Petero started developing the concept of bringing indigenous women together into a leadership programme after working in Human Resources. She attended many workshops for women in leadership around the world that did not cater to the needs of indigenous women who have a unique set of values and practices.

“We have uniqueness in being indigenous and although I’m very privileged to look at many different kinds of leadership programmes, I saw there was a gap and I wondered how do we bring our indigenous values and culture into leadership and not have to explain ourselves. 

“Our leadership skills are just as worthy, just as good, if not better than any other leadership programme I’ve experienced. In fact, eventually I would like non-indigenous women to take part in the future because what we have is valuable to them too. However right now I need to serve us first, we need to serve us now.

“We are taking back our mana, our power and saying this is how we want things to be different. We believe leadership is leadership for all and it’s about giving people a purpose to lead because we are looking at deeper levels of leadership.”

On Monday night, the New Zealand High Commissioner, H.E David Nicholson, hosted the Rise 2025 Samoa Launch and business networking event at Sinalei Resort and Spa. The evening event invited many of our local emerging and established women leaders.

“For our koha to the tagata whenua of Samoa, we gifted three places to three local women and we were looking at the emerging leaders because what I see all the time is a small percentage of men and women who can go on these leadership programmes.”

“On Monday night, we invited those women who have made it and we presented a challenge to them and it’s time for them to sponsor and bring up those emerging women leaders through this programme, whether that’s right or not, it’s time.”

“Our koha three places to locals were eterei from space and we are looking at the emerging leaders, what I see all the time have a small percentage of men and women of who can go on these leadership programmes. On Monday night we invited those women who have “made it” our challenge to them is for them to sponsor to bring up and develop through this programme, whether that’s right or not its time.”

The Rise Retreat ended with a fiafia night last night at the Sinalei Resort. Petero said to the Samoa Observer that being in Samoa has been a goal of hers for quite some time pointing out that the what Samoa has to offer is something that is in line with the vision of  Rise 2025.

“The next time is to have Samoan women on the ground. Basically, we want to bring our business here. Samoa has helped us to see a better future for Maori and indigenous women, so we thank you Samoa.”

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