Closing the gaps: Power Up mentoring initiative gives Pasifika NCEA success

By Vaimoana Tapaleao

Tyler McCarthy  (centre at back), with Quinton, 9, (centre left)  Mercedez, 7, mum Lemalu and dad Sa. Photo /  Sarah Ivey
Tyler McCarthy (centre at back), with Quinton, 9, (centre left) Mercedez, 7, mum Lemalu and dad Sa. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Tyler McCarthy knows that in order to get to where he wants to be one day, he has to work hard now.

So when a mentoring programme started up at his church last year, he knew he had to get involved.

The 16-year-old, a year 12 student at Kelston Boys High, enrolled at the Pasifika Power Up station at the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa, in Te Atatu.

"It was good because it helped me to really focus. At home, it can be hard because my little brother and sister are always coming into my room.

"But at Power Up, I was with other kids who were focused too and were really wanting to pass their NCEA."

The Pasifika Power Up stations - available around Auckland and Wellington - were launched last year by Minister of Education Hekia Parata.

The initiative is community-focused. Parents and families are invited to sit in on study sessions as a show of encouragement for their children.

Ms Parata said the success of the initiative, in which almost 2000 students participated last year, came down to the support of the community.

"What's been great about it is that every part of the community has participated ... and that has contributed to the huge rise in NCEA results." Tyler said the homework centre helped him understand how to effectively hit the books and retain what he had learned.

The fact that his parents also attended Power Up also encouraged him to work hard.

"That's what it's like for us Pacific kids - it's all about family. Seeing my family there and the other kids' parents there, inspired me. I know how hard it is for them sometimes, so it just inspires me and all of us to work hard so we can help them one day."

Sa McCarthy said his son had become more focused since attending the Power Up mentoring programme and now had a greater passion for learning; but particularly for doing well not only in school, but in life.

"Something's changed in Tyler. He knows where he wants to be one day and he knows he has to be serious about school," Mr McCarthy said.

"He's come home and said to us: 'I'm gonna have to take away this subject and do this other subject if I want to get to where I want to be'.

"Even though it's hard, he's said: 'Dad and mum, I've got to do this'."

After months of study and attending Power Up, Tyler gained a Merit endorsement for his NCEA level 1 qualification.

He hopes to study architecture one day.

- NZ Herald

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