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Pacific children and young people talk about what ‘doing well’ looks like for them

07 November 2023   /   News & reports

An animated video has just been released showcasing Pacific children and young people’s voices on 'doing well'.

As part of research commissioned by Foundation North, a small team of Pacific researchers carried out face to face interviews with 77 Pacific students aged 5 – 19 from four Auckland educators: Sylvia Park School in Mt Wellington, Oceania Careers Academy in Māngere, the Manaiakalani Education Trust in Tāmaki and Rise Up Academy in Māngere. Students shared their perspectives on what ‘doing well’ looks like for them, what helps and what stands in the way of them doing well both in and out of school, and how they overcome those barriers.

Rather than another report, a creative way to share the authentic experiences and needs of Pacific students was developed.

Combining the power of the young people’s messages with the dynamism of video and animation by Auckland based Niuean artist Maka Makatoa, the hope is that these messages will support parents, schools, youth workers and social workers to better understand the needs of Pacific young people and how to support them to be well, be happy and to ‘do well’.

What enables Pacific educational success?

Feedback from Pacific families affirm the cornerstones of Pacific educational success to be:

  • Pacific-led educational approaches
  • positive reinforcement of Pacific cultural identities, values, languages and practices
  • strong family relationships
  • a safe and supportive school environment, with teachers who have high expectations and families actively supported to engage effectively in children’s learning.

Rise Up Academy in Māngere is an exemplar of these enablers. It takes a Pacific-led, village approach, providing wraparound family support via its whānau engagement, whānau programmes and pastoral care, all of which facilitate Pacific educational and family success.

Sita Selupe, Founder of Rise Up Trust and Principal of Rise Up Academy notes “What we are seeing is that when whānau come alongside and support their children, and support their school, we see wonderful outcomes”.

“Ma tatou ano tatou e kōrero – We speak for ourselves”

These research findings are part of Ngā Tau Tuangahuru (“Looking forward for 10 more years”) – a decade long research project borne from Foundation North’s Māori and Pacific Education Initiative (MPEI); a $20 million investment in improving outcomes for Māori and Pacific students. The MPEI initiative (2009-2014) funded 11 innovative, community-led educational approaches to drive greater academic achievement among Māori and Pacific young people. Evaluative reports evidencing the initiative’s achievements and insights so far from Ngā Tau Tuangahuru can be found here.

The next phase of Ngā Tau Tuangahuru will focus on what is being learned about how to develop schools as sites of social support, especially in the context of the COVID 19 pandemic, climate change and cost-of-living pressures.