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Tongan student leaders continue a strong, united movement


Young Tongan tertiary student leaders gathered in Wellington for its third annual Leadership Weekend. The New Zealand Tongan Tertiary Students’ Association (NZTTSA) executive members invited representatives of Tongan student associations from all around New Zealand.

University of Otago DBA student and NZTTSA President Mary Jane Kivalu, says that the initiative was set to achieve specific objectives. “This year we wanted more participants, we wanted to be able to provide a productive programme for them as well as encourage our leaders to bond and network”. Kivalu states that this year was the first time that it was held outside of Dunedin and that the challenge was accepted on the basis that it will help to develop and grow the initiative.

NZTTSA Vice President Kesaia Moala’eua says it’s hard to be heard among vast numbers. “Initiatives like the leadership weekend helps Tongan students to realise that our voices are powerful and that we must learn to speak up more often” says the University of Auckland student.

Participants spent the weekend getting to know each other and discussing ways that the national Tongan student body can move forward. They also heard from guest speakers from the New Zealand Public Service and also the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations. Both Kivalu and Moala’eua agree that there are no programmes offered like this for Tongan or pacific leaders at their relative institutions. “There is no other place for us to strengthen our voice as Tongan leaders of the future” says Moala’eua.

The leaders also took a stand to help Tonga in its time of need by leading a project to collect stationery and other materials to send back home to the kingdom. “We wanted to have a targeted approach in terms of where we can help and so we decided that it was most appropriate to help with resources for school” says Kivalu. “Even though the residents need other things urgently, this is one less cost for them after having to rebuild their homes and their life.

NZTTSA has more projects set for the rest of the year including their annual student conference Ama-Taki-Loa. This year the conference will be hosted by the Victoria University of Wellington Tongan Students Association in Wellington. For more information about the association, please email nzttsa.president@gmail.com


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