The peoples’ advocate

posted: 12:00 pm - 29th March 2018

Making it in the “real” world can be tough for young people taking the next step after completing their studies.

It is challenging and testing of one’s character, but 22-year-old Anaseini Nuku  (pictured) says there are crucial steps people can take to ease the transition from studies to the workplace.

“You need to take every opportunity while studying to gain experience; get involved and network; and also persevere – don’t give up,” Anaseini says. 

Persevering is something Anaseini has become very skilled at during her journey from university to her current role as a Graduate Policy Advisor at the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) in Wellington. 

The New Zealand-born Tongan’s introduction to the Ministry was back in 2011, when Anaseini took part in a summer holiday programme.

 “We visited the Ministry and spent the afternoon talking to the Chief Adviser at the time,” she says. 

“As a Year 11 student at the time, I remember sitting in the room thinking ‘wow, wouldn’t it be awesome to be in his job’, not knowing that seven years on I would be working at the Ministry.” 

While Anaseini was studying at Victoria University in Wellington completing a Bachelor of Commerce (majoring in Public Policy and Economics), she took a chance and applied for the MPP facilitated Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Awards. 

The awards provide an opportunity for high-achieving Pacific youth in New Zealand to be recognised for their contribution to the country by the Prime Minister. 

“I applied three times and although I was unsuccessful, each attempt was purposeful in terms of building my own capability and in a sense, prepared me for the job application process following university,” she says. 

After graduating, Anaseini applied for a Policy Advisor role at MPP, which she says was more about taking an opportunity to practice applying for jobs than actually getting the role. 

“I knew I didn’t have enough experience at the time to go straight into a policy role but unknown to me, the Ministry were considering a graduate role at the time and I was employed in my current role in September 2017.” 

Growing up, Anaseini says her parents had always instilled the importance of serving her community. 

Throughout her school and university years, Anaseini was involved in a number of extra-curriculum activities, including the Victoria International Leadership Programme, Pasifika Students Council, Commonwealth Youth NZ, Girls Brigade, so getting a policy role was an opportunity to influence decisions at a higher level, she says. 

Anaseini has aspirations of continuing to advocate for Pacific, but on a greater scale. 

“Mostly, I would like to continue to influence mainstream to always consider the implications their policy decisions have on the Pacific population, and maybe move into the regional space and advocate for the Pacific region.” 

Her time at MPP has been instrumental as the first stepping stone to reaching these goals, she adds. 

“Working within a small population agency has taught me the importance of building relationships and has enabled me to build on my ability to influence, while it has also allowed me to continue working within the Pacific community and become confident in applying the Pacific perspective in all contexts.” 

The Ministry has reiterated to Anaseini her responsibility to continue to influence and advocate on behalf of the young Pacific population in NZ, and it boosted her capability to do so. 

When the time eventually comes to move on from MPP, Anaseini says she believes she will be fully equipped to take on whatever the future has in-store for her. 

Visit MPP for more information about the Ministry.