Waitakere College student Siufofoga Tafai wants to be an actor: "I know I can do that. I am a proud member of the PI (Pacific Islands) community and I want to break the stereotype that people have of us. Smallness is a state of mind.
"My parents are factory workers and I have come across a lot of people that say PI people are only good for roles like that and we can't amount to greater things," the Year 13 student says.
"So for me, as part of the future generation, I want to be bigger than what people say we are or this stereotype we are part of."
Tafai's powerful message was one of several delivered in the Vodafone Tiny Talks competition which encouraged students to share - in just 60 seconds - the kaupapa (ideas) they think will have a positive impact on the world.
Vodafone's social media lead and judge Kimberley Harcombe says the competition has been held at select lower-decile Auckland schools over recent weeks with the most impressive -Tafai's among them - selected to attend the TEDxAuckland event held on May 22.
"It wasn't a business pitch," Harcombe says. "It was for any idea or opinion they are passionate about that has the potential to change the future in some way, big or small. It could be climate change, student rights, public transport, cleaning beaches or social media saturation – anything at all."
The pitches were co-judged by Young New Zealander of the Year Jazz Thornton who says she found it an incredible experience. "These students are amazing and I feel very excited about the future of New Zealand being in the hands of these young people."
A full-day event, TEDxAuckland featured a diverse range of speakers and ideas with the potential to change the world. Tiny Talks gave students the opportunity to attend and hear from the leaders of tomorrow.
Harcombe says Vodafone has a vision of Aotearoa being a country where all young people have access to the resources and opportunities they need to thrive. This is both through the business' core connectivity services and the Vodafone NZ Foundation, which aims to halve the number of rangatahi (young people) who are facing disadvantage by 2027.
"As part of this we used our partnership with TEDxAuckland to host teens on the day who may not otherwise have the opportunity or means to attend the event."
Tafai, whose topic was 'Smallness is a State of Mind', says she thought the event was "really cool. People have all these ideas and they come and they talk about it; I've taken a lot of information from what I've heard."
Among the other students who presented their pitch at the event were:
Courtney Matthews, One Tree Hill College (Year 11) on representation: "As a person of colour, I just don't see myself or don't feel reflected in a lot of governing bodies. It makes me wonder how my perspective and my values are going to be implemented and considered and that's why I chose to talk about the importance of representation in positions of power."
Ronnie Mann, Head Boy at Waitakere College (Year 13) on help: "When I was talking to some of our younger students about what they were finding hard this year, they were struggling to adjust to the fact they have one shot to get it right and if they didn't get it right then that's it. There is a lot pressure to succeed at school and not a lot of room to fail, especially at Year 13. I was trying to speak out and get that changed for them."
Samuel Dykes Waitakere College (Year 13) on implicit bias: "I spend a lot of time on the internet watching different ideas from content creators and I looked at the ideas that I found profound and took that as a springboard to produce something that I thought was interesting."
All the students said they were inspired by the kōrero (discussion) at the TEDxAuckland event. Typical of their comments were those shared by Courtney Matthews: "TEDxAuckland was so important not just to have these people share their ideas in front of so many - which is really brave and inspiring – but because they are sharing innovative ideas in a really positive environment.
"Their ideas are expanded on such an amazing platform and it makes me think that could be me one day. It gives insight into what is to come from the next generation."
For more information go to: vodafone.co.nz