6 April, 2017. Last weekend, leaders of Tongan student bodies from tertiary institutions around New Zealand gathered again in Dunedin for its second Leadership Weekend, which was sponsored for the second time by the University of Otago.
The idea was initiated last year by the New Zealand Tongan Tertiary Students Association President Mary Jane Kivalu, who was re-elected in the Annual General Meeting at the Amatakiloa Conference and will continue as President for this year.
Those who were present at the AGM also moved to pass that the Leadership Weekend must occur every year, and is now a part of the association’s constitution. Attendees included representatives of Tongan student associations from Auckland Institute of Studies, Auckland University of Technology, Manukau Institute of Technology, Unitec Institute of Technology, University of Auckland, University of Otago, University of Waikato and Victoria University of Wellington.
Mary Jane Kivalu is very happy with the outcome of this year’s Leadership Weekend and also with the effort that was contributed from each participant. “We want the Tongan tertiary students in New Zealand to come together and recognise the great things we can achieve if we work together, and that won’t happen if the leaders don’t lead the way”.
The University of Otago MBA student has a strong vision for the association that includes being able to provide more opportunities for Tongan tertiary students in New Zealand. “This country has so much to offer, especially for Pacific people, but we have to do our part in utilising those opportunities.
Our annual conference has been around for 25 years, first known as Aofangatuku and then later renamed as Amatakiloa, and it is up to today’s generation to take things a step further.
There is so much we can do but it begins with providing a strong platform of networking - whether we like it or not, we live in a world where social capital can take you a long way.” Kivalu admits that her team had an intense weekend but trusts that in good time, they will see the benefits.