Gala Dinner Speeches 2019: Letitia Puni, Fletcher Building

Talofa lava. Malo le soifua laulelei.

O au o Letitia Puatausaga Puni. O lou tupuaga e mai i Pu’apu’a i Savaii, ma Matatufu; ma Samatau; ma le Palagi Aotearoa

TupuToa journey

I first received a Tupu Toa internship in 2016. I was 21, studying a double degree in Law and Commerce, a part time employee, and my partner and I had just become guardians of his younger brother.

I was on a mission to fulfil my life purposes of being a contributing citizen of Aotearoa; thanking my parents for their sacrifice and love; being a positive role model for my brother and younger family members; a supportive partner; and loving guardian.

I applied for other opportunities but was repeatedly told: ‘You don’t meet our requirements’. It seemed like no one saw my potential.

I didn’t want to be rejected again but knew I must give everything a go and thus applied for a Tupu Toa internship. I will never forget the day I received it. I was elated! Finally, hallelujah someone saw my potential.

Fletcher Living Highlights and Learnings

Over this summer I interned with Fletcher Living. My highlights include co-ordinating a dawn blessing at which I lead the waiata, naming streets, working behind and in front of the camera for brand video and photo shoots, and helping organising a volunteer day at Tamaki college.

Each project I worked on taught me many important lessons. One that I believe to be of great value is building your brand. A colleague at Fletcher Living told me that everything I do in my professional capacity should flourish my personal brand and the brands I represent, such as Fletcher Living and Tupu Toa. I now do this to the best of my ability.

Thank you

To every Tupu Toa staff and board member, both past and present, thank you for creating and continuing to operate this organisation and internship programme. You have blessed hundreds of Pasefika and Maori tertiary students by giving us a head start in our careers.

Thank you, corporate partners, for giving Maori and Pasefika interns an opportunity in your workplace. Thank you: Genesis Energy for my 2016 internship; Air New Zealand for the 2017 internship; and Fletcher Living for my 2018 internship.

Furthermore, thank you Mr Steve Evans, CEO of Fletcher Living for taking me in as part of your corporate family, allowing me to grow in a nurturing environment, and offering me an employment contract post my Tupu Toa internship, which I have accepted with much gratitude. Thank you to my manager Jo Shepherd for supporting every aspect of who I am and making me feel comfortable bringing my whole self to work. Thank you to my team for teaching me how to best do the various aspects of my role.

Thank you to the parents, siblings, partners, family members and friends of the interns who have backed us.

Thank you God for guiding our steps through the valleys and along the mountain tops.


To conclude, the ancient oratory of Samoa would say Malo le fai o le faiva Tupu Toa ma Corporate Partners. O lea ua mutia le ala.

In translation, well done Tupu Toa and Corporate Partners for your enduring leadership and vision. Look and see that the pathway you built and developed from a rocky and rough trail has now become a green, safe and secure passageway towards a better future for Pasifika and Maori generations to follow.

Ia manuia, ma ia soifua. May it be well with this gathering. And to life!

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