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Beatrice Faumuina's speech for the BEST Pasifika Leadership

Beatrice Faumuina’s Speech
Chief Executive
BEST Pasifika Leadership Academy and charitable Foundation

Talofa lava and warm pacific greetings.

Mayor Len Brown, assebled dignitaries and diplomats, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Launch of the BEST Pasifika Leadership Academy and charitable Foundation.

I am Beatrice Faumuinaa and I am proud to stand here today as the inaugural Chief Executive of this Academy and Foundation.

There is one person above all that I want to acknowledge at this stage, and that is Anita Finnigan, Director of BEST Pacific Institute of Education. Anita is the driving force behind the establishment of the Academy and charitable Foundation, and she will talk soon about the vision we share for these two new organisations.

For now, Anita let me say that if I could have written my dream job description for a career after sport, then being the Chief Executive of these two organisations would be it. I am honoured that you considered me the right person for the job. I am loving the challenge and very motivated by the steep learning curve. I want to see Pasifika lead their own people, to grasp and maximise the opportunities before them, to solve their own problems and to become world beaters! That’s why you have my whole-hearted personal and professional commitment to this role.

The Inspiration

As many of you know, I have enjoyed a sporting career that dates back to [1993] and includes competition at four Commonwealth and four Olympic Games. I have in my trophy cabinet two Commonwealth Gold medals and one World Championship.

But none of that was achieved in a vacuum. Simply put, the success I achieved in my sporting career could not have been accomplished without the support I received. Without my mother and my coaches, and even one of Len Brown’s predecessors as Mayor of Auckland, I could not have done it.

They were the people who inspired me when I needed motivation; they were the people who guided me when I needed advice to overcome the barriers in front of me. Discus may look like an individual sport, but the reality is that it’s a team sport. Although you walk alone onto the field, you have to have a team at your back. I was never out there alone and one of my ambitions is to see other Pacific people supported and encouraged into success in their chosen field of endeavour by an expert team.

I have now retired from sport, but I hope now to infuse the leadership academy and charitable trust with the principles and approach that drove my success in the sporting arena.

Growing up, the greatest trap was settling for less than your full potential, and not developing your gifts to the max, and giving in to the stereotype that Pasifika people are not expected to succeed and be the best.

It was the support and guidance I received from those key people around me that kept me focussed on my sport in a way that helped me avoid those traps and enabled me to succeed and to take my natural abilities and to compete on the world stage.

I am determined that the Academy and the charitable Foundation will help transform the Pasifika community by providing more Pasifika people with the training and mentoring they need to lead – whether that be in business, in the community or as entrepreneurs. Fundamentally, the Academy and charitable Foundation are about training and mentoring Pasifika to be top leaders.

About the Academy and charitable Foundation

The Academy and charitable Foundation are two distinct entities. The Academy will form a new arm of BEST Pacific Institute of Education, a Private Training Establishment that has been serving Pasifika people in Manukau for nearly 23 years.

The Academy will initially offer a Diploma in Pasifika Leadership that has been designed and tailored for Pasifika people, commencing in April 2011. It will also offer Pasifika language for Pasifika leaders. Dr Lester Levy from the University of Auckland Business School’s New Zealand Leadership Institute will be assisting with academic input and programme development. Lester, we will get you on stage later in the programme, but I would like to acknowledge your presence here today and the support and assistance you have provided so far. We would also like to acknowledge the support and assistance provided so far by Dr Peggy Fairbairn-Dunlop, the Foundation Professor of Pacific Studies, Institute of Public Policy at the Auckland University of Technology, Former Cabinet Minister and now Assistant Vice-Chancellor Pasifika at Victoria University, Luamanuvao Winnie Laban, Don Campbell, Chief Executive of Whitireia, and many others.

The Academy will also offer a specialised Diploma in Pasifika Business Leadership, a Diploma in Pasifika Women’s Leadership, and in Pasifika Youth Leadership. In the medium-term the Academy will seek to evolve these qualifications into degree-level programmes.

The Diplomas will be fee charging. However, in order to make them as accessible as possible, the Academy will approach a range of diversity-focussed, corporate sponsors to seek their support to make a range of scholarships available, and to sponsor their own Pasifika staff into courses.

In future, the Academy will also seek to offer a networking service that puts our entrepreneurially-minded leadership diploma students/graduates in touch with “angel investors” looking for investment opportunities.

The second entity is the charitable Foundation. Its objective is to raise the leadership ambitions, potential, and ability of Pasifika people by providing a Pasifika leadership mentoring programme to educate and foster likely future Pasifika leaders. The mentoring programme will ensure that BEST’s students, and applicants from outside BEST, emerge with the wisdom, skills and confidence to become leaders in every walk of life: in the workforce, their own business and in their communities.

The mentoring programme will work by linking selected students with a mentor who is committed to helping and guiding a student for an agreed period of time.

Mentors will be successful leaders in their own right, and will help aspiring Pasifika leaders to reach their full potential. The initial pool of mentors will be drawn from BEST alumni, many of whom have gone on to become inspiring and successful leaders in their chosen fields, and also from other successful Pasifika leaders who want to give back to their own people.

Mentors will be trained by the Foundation and will be matched to students who apply, according to shared interests, experience, age, life-skills and vocation (or intended vocation).

The mentees have to apply. They must be committed to reaching their full leadership potential and becoming top leaders for the New Zealand Pasifika community. They have to really want what the mentors are offering and commit themselves fully to utilising that training and time input.

The Foundation will also run a speaker series that exposes students in the mentoring programme to the insights of a range of high profile and high achieving leaders, including Pasifika leaders.

The Foundation will have a modest initial intake of applicants in the second quarter of 2011, but the number of students able to take advantage of this unique opportunity will increase as the pool of mentors increases.

In the medium-term, the Foundation will extend the mentoring programme to selected secondary school students. This will also be by application. Secondary school is a critical area of engagement, as young Pasifika people sometimes “fall between the cracks” as they complete high school and make decisions about their future direction. They need to get great advice on how to maximise their leadership potential as early as possible, particularly if they lack positive role models and support in other areas of their lives.

The Foundation boasts 5 very talented trustees, who we will introduce later in the programme, who will ensure we are successful and effective. They are:
• Fepulea'i Margie Apa - Deputy Director-General, Sector Capability and Implementation, Ministry of Health
• Anita Finnigan - Director, BEST
• Sandra Kailahi - Journalist and presenter for TVNZ
• Markerita Kim Poutasi - Chief Executive, Pacific Cooperation Foundation
• David Wong-Tung - Barrister, Member of Business Mentors New Zealand and the NZ Institute of Directors;

Ultimately, the best way to teach leadership is just to lead.

That is what BEST has done by establishing the Foundation and the Academy: we have not waited for others to take the initiative or to provide funding for this. Today, I and my partners in this new venture are taking up the challenge that has been laid down for us. Together, we will transform Pasifika New Zealand and unleash the power of this great idea to help all New Zealanders make this country truly great – bit by bit, but we will do it.

Thank you.

ENDS

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