More than 100 Northland Pacific people are this year taking part in the region's first Pacific PowerUP programme.

The Whangārei-based Ministry of Education (MoE) backed programme boosts Pasifika students' educational achievement through a new family-based workshop series offered in Northland for the first time this year. Five thousand Northlanders identify as Pasifika. Boosting Pasifika educational achievement is a key Government goal.

"It's been great," Neila Uale, year 13 Whangarei Girls' High School student said.

Uale has already put into practice the time management skills learned at Pacific PowerUp for managing her NCEA level three study this year. She has done the same after learning the importance of asking questions at school if she's unsure about something, rather than sit "politely" as is more traditional in her culture.

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Students from 2 to 18 take part in the programme with their families, splitting into age-group targeted education workstations during "class". The evening sessions begin with a shared meal before attendees break into one of five options - early learning students, primary and intermediate and secondary students and parent workshops. All workshop sessions are run by trained New Zealand-registered teachers, in line with national MoE Pacific PowerUP protocols.

Pacific PowerUP junior primary students Isaac Salu (rear), Junior Tevita and Emmanuel Mannie take part in hands-on language learning Photo / Susan Botting
Pacific PowerUP junior primary students Isaac Salu (rear), Junior Tevita and Emmanuel Mannie take part in hands-on language learning Photo / Susan Botting

Parents attend workshops about NCEA and education pathways and can meet other parents with similar experiences and concerns, ask teachers questions and build their confidence in the education setting so they can support their children's learning.

One parent Ekueta Uale (of Tuvaluan heritage) said he had found participating in Pacific PowerUP worthwhile. He had learned more about the importance of his senior school children making sure to plan as part of the good time management necessary for educational success. It had also been positive getting a better idea of what his children were learning about at school.

Another parent, Soa Levita (of Tuvaluan heritage but born and brought up in Fiji), said Pacific PowerUP had opened his mind about his family's education.

Vienna Perri Ripikoi, 4, writes her name. Photo / Susan Botting
Vienna Perri Ripikoi, 4, writes her name. Photo / Susan Botting

"It's also been helpful when they come home and we talk about school," Levita said.

Pacific PowerUP was brought to Whangārei by Northland Pasifika peoples' organisation Fale Pasifika Te Tai Tokerau.

"It's been awesome to be able to offer this in Northland for the first time," May Seager (of Cook Island Māori heritage), Fale Pasifika Te Tai Tokerau manager said.

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Learning about colours Mackenzie-Rose Murrell (left) and Vienna Perri Ripioki. Photo / Susan Botting
Learning about colours Mackenzie-Rose Murrell (left) and Vienna Perri Ripioki. Photo / Susan Botting

Seager said Pacific PowerUP offered participants the chance to further educational learning with familiar cultural queues. It used trained New Zealand-registered teachers to work with participating families. Community champions were also involved, helping promote the programme in their Pacific communities.

"We hope to bring it to the region again," Seager said.

Pacific PowerUP Whangārei junior primary leader Shontelle Wihongi (of Niuean/Māori heritage) said she had enjoyed working with students from a range of Pacific Islands in an educational setting.

Mackenzie-Rose Murrell, 2, with Latika Oud, the Pacific PowerUP early learning lead teacher. Photo / Susan Botting
Mackenzie-Rose Murrell, 2, with Latika Oud, the Pacific PowerUP early learning lead teacher. Photo / Susan Botting

There are eight two-hour Pacific PowerUP sessions over five months in the Whangārei-based opportunity that started in June and finishes today.