Its vision is clear, to build a flourishing Māori and Pacific Engineering Profession in New Zealand, the Pacific and beyond.
Since its establishment in 2004, the South Pacific Professional Engineering Excellence (SPPEEx) has been focused on making this vision happen – and its successful work in this space has made it an ideal Toloa Community Fund recipient last year.
The enthusiastic members of this unique organisation want to contribute towards building a more diverse pool of Engineers in the New Zealand industry, but it also aims to broaden the range of careers people are exposed to.
The goal to inspire more Pacific people to take up Engineering aligns with the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) Toloa Programme to encourage Pacific people into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers.
In May 2019, SPPEEx staged an Engineering Careers Expo – which provided Pacific secondary school students with the opportunity to meet with professionals working in the engineering industry.
Since using the Toloa Community Fund money to support the successful event which raised awareness around engineering careers for the students, SPPEEx has been concentrating on developing professional members and planning its 2020 events, SPPEEx member and Operations Manager Southern Network Sifa Pole says.
There has been a recognised need for a more diverse pool of Engineers in the industry for some time now.
SPPEEx has created a space where Māori and Pacific Engineers can come together to support and network with each other and reach out and offer support to the wider community.
“The Toloa Community Fund grant has helped us to do that and it has enabled us to raise awareness of our organisation and career opportunities among our Pacific people," Sifa says.
Applications for the 2020 Toloa Community Fund grants have closed, with recipients to be acknowledged in February.
However, Sifa encourages organisations which encourage Pacific people to take part in STEM activities, and promote STEM as a potential career path, to apply when the opportunity arises again.
Pursuing a career in any vocation is a privilege, yet doing so can seem inconceivable when there is little representation and people cannot see themselves reflected in such positions or when there is little known about the industry.
“We want to promote a career in the Engineering profession as attainable…and in the long run create a more diverse pool of engineers in the Aotearoa,” Sifa says.