Pasifika people who come to New Zealand wanting to create a better future are being assisted with this dream by an initiative run by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples.
Tupu Aotearoa connects Pacific people with local providers who support them to access work or learning opportunities on their journey to employment, further training or study.
Horowhenua Learning Centre (HLC) is the provider in our area, taking up the contract with Tupu Aotearoa in October 2019.
Fraser Daysh, who works for HLC as a Tupu Aotearoa navigator, said they recognised the Horowhenua region had a growing community of Pasifika people who would benefit from specifically targeted assistance.
Aureliarotesa (Tessa) Letaulia Feomaia and her husband Teleste moved to New Zealand in 2019.
The move to Aotearoa was a challenging and costly journey, but "… it [was] all worth it [as] we were in search for a better future for us and our families", Tessa said.
The couple initially moved to Marton, as Teleste had contract work there, but Tessa had difficulties finding a job, despite door knocking at local businesses for months.
The Feomaias had family based in Levin and knew AJ Senele, another Tupu Aotearoa navigator working at HLC, who encouraged them to look at moving to Horowhenua, where jobs were more plentiful.
Senele referred the Feomaia's to Daysh who contacted the couple and travelled to Marton to meet them and explain what the Tupu Aotearoa programme could offer.
Daysh helped Teleste navigate Trade Me to secure himself a job at Turks Poultry and the couple made the move to Levin.
With Tupu Aotearoa and HLC's guidance, Tessa began working at Te Ata Kura (Alternative Education) under Whaioro Trust as an administrator.
"It was such a wonderful experience, where it opened my eyes to see the world of New Zealand through the eyes of teenagers," she said.
Within a month of arriving in Levin, Teleste had managed to secure himself a new job, at Oji Fibre Solutions, with better pay and conditions.
"Working with Fraser to get my first job helped my confidence in applying for my second job," said Teleste.
The couple's friendship with Daysh continued beyond the employment support they got from him and they kept in close contact with each other.
So when an opening arose at HLC for a Tupu Aotearoa employment consultant, Daysh thought Tessa would be the perfect applicant and encouraged her to apply for it.
Tessa secured the job and is now busy in her role offering training, career planning and guidance to clients to enable them to secure employment or enrol in higher education.
"Our clients are predominantly referred from WINZ [and] are a diverse group of people, with most being Kiribati or Western Samoan," said Daysh.
Tessa can speak to the clients from her own experience, guiding them to take that first step and helping them to build connections.
Daysh said Tessa is an excellent example of how Tupu Aotearoa can make a huge difference to a Pasifika person's life, "she has set the golden standard".
If you are interested in learning more about Tupu Aotearoa, visit the MPP website:
Otherwise get in touch with the Horowhenua Learning Centre: