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Alumni Reflection, Leisa Siteine


Ten Years On……

In 2004, I was provided with the opportunity from my organization (Manukau City Council) to apply for the very first Leadership NZ Programme.  They were looking to support a female Polynesian in middle management and I fit the bill along with a few other colleagues but I was fortunate enough to be selected (literally drawing straws!) to be put forward. 

I was accepted for the 2005 Programme and was very aware that I was the only Polynesian on the Programme (well there were two of us but the other one left in the early stages) and that part of being selected was because of that fact.  Although I am half Samoan (half European) with a father who was a Matai (chief) I can’t speak or understand the language and was brought up in a very European style. I felt a strong obligation to represent the Pacific Culture during the programme, although I didn’t feel I did a very good job, but one of my personal goals set as part of the Leadership NZ Programme was to become more involved in my Culture. 

After I completed the Leadership NZ Programme I put myself forward and was voted in as the Chair of Fale Pasifika (Councils Pacific staff network).  This enabled me to have a direct input and influence on Pacific staff development and my first goal was to programme and facilitate a leadership and personal development course through HR specifically for Pacific staff.  That was 9 years ago and I hope it was a catalyst in providing a platform for Pacific staff to become a larger part of the organisations leadership.  It definitely enabled me to engage further opportunities for Pacific development with both staff and infrastructure and I secured a specific Pacific position within my team (one of only 3 in an organization of nearly 1,000 staff) and also developed a Pacific Art Centre which within 4 years doubled the staff and tripled the facility size. 

This aspect of my development is only one small thing that I attribute to the Leadership NZ Programme and I have since had countless opportunities to utilize the skills that were gained from the Programme. 

I have since left that part of Council and find myself in another part of the Council family where I am the only Pacific staff member, but I manage a team that produces the biggest Pacific event in New Zealand ‘Pasifika Festival’... so the journey continues. 

Leisa Siteine was one of the participants on the first ever Leadership NZ Programme in 2005. She was the only Polynesian on the Programme and as a result of the Programme Leisa set herself a personal goal of becoming more involved in her culture.