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Tongan leadership programme a winner

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Seven Onehunga High School pupils spent a day in Parliament in February, as guests of List MP Anahila Kanongata'a-Suisuiki. The students were part of the Fakatoukatea Tongan Leadership group run by Anahila, and Sosepa Hausia-Schaumkel, both former OHS pupils.

Every year, 20 Year 9 Tongan students are chosen to take part in the Fakatoukatea programme for one term. Anahila takes time away from her parliamentary work every week to join Sosepa, and meet with the group. The programme encourages the pupils to embrace their culture, as well as to pursue their dreams and set high standards for themselves.

This year, some of the first group to go through the programme are now in Year 13. They were given a chance to see the Government in action and, funded by OHS alumni, they flew to Wellington for a day. The visit started with a guided tour of Parliament led by Anahila, then an opportunity to watch Question Time from the visitors’ gallery, and finally a meeting with Peeni Henare, Minister for Youth and Whānau Ora.

Student, Uele Hausia, says seeing the diversity of Parliament was an “eye opener” – he had never realised how many people from different cultures there are. The highlight was meeting Minister Henare, who  spoke passionately about his background, and keeping his culture. 

Uele says he realised the Minister had come from a similar background as himself, and it has given him confidence to pursue his own goals. He was also very impressed by the way Mr Henare encouraged them to never let their language die.

Another student, Diane Amanoni, says the visit made a different impression, saying “I’m turning 18 soon, and will be old enough to vote.” She says the trip helped her realise why voting is so important.

Anahila says she and Sosepa started the Fakatoukatea programme, after being challenged by former OHS teacher, Professor Graeme Aitken, who asked them what they had given back to their old school. Their response was to set up Fakatoukatea to help Tongan students succeed. 

The students who went to Wellington agree that the programme has been a huge boost to their confidence, and as a result they are considering careers such as engineering, criminal psychology or joining the police.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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