Ou te fa’atalofa atu, I le pa-ia ma le ma-malu, o le aofia^ i lenei afiafi. O lo’u igoa o Wynona. Good evening all and welcome to this beautiful celebration.
It is an honour to stand here before you to give an insight in to my journey, one that TupuToa plays a huge part in making so fruitful.
In 2018 my two main goals were to connect to my heritage more closely and try something professionally that would challenge and scare the socks off me. These two goals were fulfilled thanks to the support of such a visionary organisation.
My grandmother moved to NZ from Samoa in the hopes of building a better life here. She studied hard to pass the exam that would allow her access to Aotearoa in the late 1960’s and she worked in a factory upon arrival. My mum was the first person to go to university in our family and often comes home saying she is the only Pacific Islander on a project. These women have been pathing the way for my future successes before I was even alive. Although my great grandma still ribs me about looking like her little Palagi in the family, and although I cannot speak the language, I am so proud to be ¼ Samoan. I truly stand on the shoulders of giants.
In my TupuToa interview, I expressed to the student navigators how important my heritage is to me, how much I wanted to join an inspirational group of Māori and Pasifika peers from around Aotearoa and from diverse educational backgrounds. Since joining TupuToa I feel more connected than ever, especially after taking my grandma back to her home village Vaitele at the end of last year.
It is a sensational feeling to have someone advocate for your future, something both TupuToa and ANZ have showcased, as all the partners here tonight have. I am only here today because of those who’ve believed in me. Four years ago, I was lost and had just became a solo mother to the most beautiful little girl who was born with cerebral palsy. For so long I was harsh on myself thinking how dare I add fire to the statistic that Māori and Pasifika youth get pregnant and don’t prioritise education, so I stepped up and created change. I just want to acknowledge that we have some outstanding interns in the room this year who are anything but statistics, who are navigating higher education, their internship, uplifting their communities and raising curious, strongminded children at the same time.
My internship at ANZ was an incredible experience. I had plenty of pre-conceived ideas about banking but really knew very little at all. My team embraced me with open arms and immersed me straight in to seminars, forums with the senior exec and online courses to give me a big picture of the organisation. I was fortunate enough to work on two projects that were engaging, provided value to the team, and allowed for a steep learning curve over the eight weeks. If there is one thing that stood out most at ANZ, it was the number of mana wahine. I was surrounded by inspirational female thought-leaders who were both passionate and excellent at what they did, whilst showing me how to balance being a good mother thanks to ANZ’s flexible working policy. I was in awe of what this organisation stands for and how much they care about their staff and customers. I am thrilled to share that I will be joining ANZ full-time once I graduate next year and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to learn so much more.
Please join me and toast this year’s exceptional TupuToa team, my hard-working peers who are going to rock this world and the visionary partners who continue to value diversity of thought and people.