Interns’ insightful visit across the Tasman

TupuToa interns Wilber Tupua and Sinita-Ashley Tau have shared an insightful and meaningful experience across the Ditch, after taking part in the CareerTrackers LDI Conference recently.

Wilber, an intern at ACC, and Sinita-Ashley, an intern at BNZ, represented the inaugural 28-strong TupuToa intern cohort at the four-day conference in Sydney, from January 31 until February 3.

Interim Executive Director for TupuToa Rhys Faleafa also attended the conference.

TupuToa is modelled closely to the not for profit organisation CareerTrackers, which creates internship opportunities for Indigenous university students.

It currently has 500 interns working for some of the most prestigious institutions across Australia.

By attending the conference, Wilber and Sinita-Ashley have been exposed not only to many new faces and contacts, but also to education and awareness around Indigenous struggles in Australia, and the adversities they have overcome.

These challenges are often similar to those faced by their Māori and Pacific brothers and sisters.

On day one was the Community Day, and the New Zealand-based pair of interns travelled to the National Centure for Indigenous Excellence (NCIE) in Redfern, where they met and connected with a sea of interns and CareerTrackers staff from across Australia.

Together as a group, the interns built prosthetic hands which will be eventually donated to underdeveloped countries.

The second day was the start of the conference proper at Novotel Sydney Olympic Park, and it kicked off with a traditional Aboriginal smoking ceremony, after which Chief Executive Officer and founder of CareerTrackers Michael Combs also welcomed attendees to the conference.

“He (Michael Combs) acknowledged TupuToa and the comparative work it is doing in New Zealand for Indigenous and Pasifika people,” Wilber says.

There was also a panel discussion with Aboriginal elders, which he adds has been culturally insightful and emotionally confronting.

“The elders relived the horrors of their history, subjugation of their culture, with some members on the panel being part of the Stolen Generation (removed forcefully from their families when they were young).

“It was a sad and incredibly emotional experience but one that help to heal many of them when talking about the experience.

“However, the evening ended on a lighter but entertaining note where the night transformed into with CareerTrackers Got Talent … Rhys was like Paula Abdul where he tended to find the good in every performance,” the intern quips.

Day three was “extremely inspirational” for the interns, consisting of presentations from successful Indigenous guest speakers, including 2014 Australian of the Year and AFL legend Adam Goode.

“They spoke of their broken backgrounds, and the adversities they had to overcome in order to reach their goals.

“We then broke off into small intimate sessions hosted by members of some prestigious corporate firms, and that evening, we dressed up and made our way to Darling Harbour where we indulged in a fancy dinner, basked in the presence of CEOs from big companies like Qantas, Westpac and Macquarie Group.”

The closing session of the conference was hosted by the CEO of the Commonwealth Bank, and soon after the small delegation returned home to NZ.

“Overall, the conference was absolutely tremendous; filled with learning and insightful experiences.

“This was the perfect opportunity for us to understand the dynamics of their programme, composition and processes that might contribute to the development of TupuToa and our cohort,” Wilber adds.

“The magnitude of Career Trackers is fantastic … In saying that, it didn’t intimidate us because I am so proud of TupuToa and the work it is doing for our people.”

Wilber is equally proud of the inaugural TupuToa cohort because the contrast is each individual is grounded by the principles and values of their different cultures.

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