Tupu Aotearoa Manager Lisa Tou (pictured) believes the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) initiative is unique, underpinned by a Pacific world view based on relationships, respect and people.
Lisa, of Cook Islands and New Zealand descent, is a true Southern girl.
Raised in Invercargill, Lisa studied at Otago University in Dunedin and worked as an educator for nearly three decades, and during her career she has sat on the Pasifika Education reference group and helped to establish the first Polyfest in Southland.
Having always loved working with young people, encouraging and supporting them to make the most of opportunities, coming on-board at the Ministry to assist with Tupu Aotearoa was a natural pathway for Lisa, despite feeling a little weird coming out of the classroom after such a long time, she says.
“I also like to think strategically about what is possible and then try and make it happen,” Lisa adds.
“Sometimes I don’t think young people realise how amazing they are and it’s our job to help them see they are ‘gold’.”
Tupu Aotearoa aims to reduce the number of Pacific young people living in New Zealand who are not in employment, education or training in the targeted regions where Pacific communities live.
It does this by partnering with Service Providers, who bring experience and local knowledge, to provide access to the right tools to develop the skills to prepare and transition them into permanent employment and undertake study or qualifications aligned to future employment opportunities.
Pacific communities are growing in regions throughout Aotearoa, such as Oamaru where one in four residents are of Pacific heritage, and who have indicated MPP needs to do more to address unemployment challenges, lower productivity and people who are struggling economically.
The Government’s Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) has provided $8.85 million for Tupu Aotearoa to be expanded to the regions, including Southland.
Based in Invercargill, Lisa’s role as a Tupu Aotearoa Manager is to support two new Service Providers Pacific Trust Otago and Oamaru Pacific Island Group Inc, who recently signed an agreement with the Ministry.
“Tupu Aotearoa has a real Pacific flavour and we are looking at everything through this lens.
“It is a partnership between MPP and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and it is part of the Provincial Growth Fund which is exciting.
“My providers are Pasifika providers, which is fantastic… this initiative is different and underpinning it is a Pasifika world view based on relationships, respect and people.”
The new Service Providers are preparing to take on clients, with Lisa’s guidance, and rolling out the Tupu Aotearoa programme.
Driving Lisa is the belief everyone deserves a good life, she says.
“If I can play a small role in helping someone have a better life- who am I not to do it?”
Visit Tupu Aotearoa for more information.