TAPU TUISUGA shared the stage with SUSANA LEI’ATAUA to deliver the Graduands’ Speech on behalf of the Class of 2018 on The Mana Moana Experience.
Tēnā koutou, Talofa Lava, Kia orana, Mālō e lelei, Fakaalofa lahi atu, Bula vinaka, Malo Ni, Halo Ola keta, Mauri, Fakatalofa atu and Welcome – to all our families and friends.
Thank you for making the time to come and celebrate this special occasion with us. It has been a journey and with all your support and love, it is fitting that we share this moment and celebrate together with you.
I would like to acknowledge the support of the various organisations and agencies the participants of Mana Moana 2018 represent. Thank you for getting behind us and for being part of this worthy cause of raising future leaders for our community. On behalf of all the Pasifika communities in Aotearoa, we would like to express our sincere gratitude - for supporting our people and for believing in the vision - Pasifika leaders, leading Pasifika communities.
On a personal level, I would like to make special mention of the Andrea Needham Leadership Charitable Trust. To Catherine Collinson and the trustees - thank you for sponsoring me on the Mana Moana leadership programme. Thank you for your commitment to seeing change and improvements made in the area of domestic violence – in providing initiatives and support to make our communities safer.
The experience and the knowledge that I have gained from this Mana Moana journey, will help improve the Stopping Violence Services work, which I do for our Pasifika communities in Christchurch. So thank you!
To our Mana Moana aiga – thank you for the wonderful journey. Thank you for the opportunity to learn and to grow together. Our journey has just begun! Numerous times, we have been challenged to think outside the box (metaphorically speaking) we don’t fit the box so we don’t have any choice!
Our values, our world views, our traditions, our language; our way of life, our spirituality and faith in God, our protocols, our stories, our indigenous ways and ideas, they don’t fit the western worldviews and dominant views of the day, but, that does not mean that they are less important or should be ignored. In fact they should be celebrated and honoured, because we have much to offer and so much that others can learn from.
In my humble opinion – leadership is not about what we do or don’t do, but rather about WHO WE ARE – our characters and our integrity. And we are Pasifika people leading Pasifika communities; we draw from the knowledge and wisdom of our ancestors/forefathers - trail blazers - who went before and laid the foundations for us.
We lead not from head knowledge or book knowledge, but from a place of deep connection and understanding, based on our own struggles and experiences while trying to make a living in this new place, that we call our home away from home. Let our own stories of struggles help us lead our people and to meet them where they are at. Someone once said – “we cannot lead and take people to where we have never been ourselves.” Their story is our story – we all have been through similar struggles that our people are going through. So much has been said and told about us – it’s time, that we be the authors of our own stories. Let us weave our own baskets (so to speak) using our values, our protocols, our language, our traditions, our way of being, our faith and our stories to bring about change for our communities.
I firmly believe, that our confidence and our strength to lead our people and to persevere with causes we are passionate about, comes from honouring and valuing who we are – We are Pasifika people – so let us celebrate that!
Fa’afetai Lava ma ia Manuia!