Creating positive futures for Pasifika

Trending at Number 1 in the New Zealand Twittersphere last week was an event partly organised by three University of Canterbury Pasifika students: Riki Welsh, Wesley Mauafu and Josiah Tualamali’i. Growing Pasifika Solutions for our young people #GPS2016  was held in Auckland on 21 and 22 April. The event brought together around 500 attendees, including a number of high profile Pasifika and mental health advocates, such as Sonny Bill Williams, Mike King, MTV host Krit Schmidt and comedian Tofiga Fepulea’I (Laughing Samoans), to talk about creating a flourishing future for Pasifika young people in New Zealand.

Photo: Members of the GPS 2016 Youth Action Komiti with one of the conference keynote speakers Sonny Bill Williams.
Photo: Members of the GPS 2016 Youth Action Komiti with one of the conference keynote speakers Sonny Bill Williams.

MBA student and Pacific Development Team member Riki Welsh shares how they got involved.

Just over a year ago we received an email from Le Va (a non-government organisation working with social services around the country to provide better delivery for Pasifika communities) asking for help to organise a small youth conference in Christchurch.

We accepted the challenge, ran the conference and impressed the Auckland based funders so much that they offered two of us (Riki and Wesley) positions on their organising group for a major conference being planned in 2016 and one of us (Josiah) a position on the board of their organisation that delivers millions of dollars of services every year.  Naturally we all accepted.

Six months of planning, five trips to Auckland, multiple Skype meetings and phone calls, and in the blink of an eye the entire conference is finished and we’re left with a whole new energy, passion and promise from all sectors of New Zealand about the future of Pasifika young people in New Zealand.

We got involved with Le Va and the GPS conference because of our passion for Pasifika young people, but also because of the alarming rate of suicide by Pasifika young people in New Zealand. The leading cause of death for young people in New Zealand is suicide, worse than motor vehicle accidents. New Zealand is at the top of the OECD for death by suicides for young people and the horrifying thing for us is that Pasifika young people have the highest suicide attempts of all groups in New Zealand.

We all know someone who has died by suicide, so doing something proactive about it is so important to us. The GPS conference allowed for some extremely important conversations to take place. Never have we seen a conference where experts in the field present their research, which is then critiqued by Pasifika young people who were able to add real lived experiences of suicide attempts and self-harm to the research presented.

We feel like a national movement has been started and we hope that it leads to real change for the Pasifika people of Aotearoa.

While at the conference, Riki was interviewed by Tagata Pasifika. Check out the Tagata Pasifika story on the conference here, and a New Zealand Herald story about Riki and Wesley’s meeting with All Black superstar Sonny Bill Williams here.

Canterbury’s History Exhibition

Some of the earliest maps and plans of Canterbury will be on show in Central Library until mid-May in an exhibition that explores land ownership in the region from the 1850s to early 20th century. While the library holds hundreds of maps that have been produced over the last 150 odd years, the select few on display can tell us quite a bit about what Canterbury looked like in these early days of settlement.

Take a look if you are strolling through the library, especially at the Balmoral Run Plan, we know only very little about this treasure…Balmoral Run - close up 2a

More information here >

Gallipoli Pine Planting on campus – a reflection

UC marked the Anzac Day centenary with the planting of a seedling from the original Gallipoli Lone Pine. Chancellor Dr John Wood CNZM QSO (below right), planted the Gallipoli Pine seedling to mark the 100th anniversary of the first Anzac Day after the University’s Anzac Service hosted by the UCSA on Monday 25 April.

Alan and Chancellor2

Alan Leckie from Scion (above left), who gifted the tree to UC,  said before the planting:

“This memorial tree honours all those women and men who left our shores and it specifically honours women and men from this university.”


UCSA President Alex Cheesebrough helped at the planting.