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New Pacific project set to support ākonga through collaborative partnership

L-R: Tamati Peni (Te Whatu Ora NZ, Interim Pacific Lead), Rose Marsters (Wintec | Te Pūkenga, Strategic Pacific Director) and Marouna James (Ministry of Social Development/Public Services). 

A collaborative partnership between Wintec | Te Pūkenga, Te Whatu Ora NZ and the Ministry of Social Development has seen the launch of a new project specifically for Pacific ākonga. The Wayfinder project, a Pacific workforce guided pathway with a focus on health programmes.

The launch also provided the opportunity to have the official opening of the Centre for Learners of Oceania and Vocational Excellence (C4LOVE). The centre, dedicated to Pacific, equity and excellence, was born from Oire Pacific's efforts towards meeting objectives for the Wintec | Te Pūkenga Pacific Strategy.

The Wayfinder project is a pilot created for Pacific People’s workforce development in our region, with a focus on pathways in health. These include enrolled nursing, nursing, midwifery, counselling, social work and physiotherapy.

The project will support a cohort of Pacific ākonga in a one-to-four-year plan, depending on their programme of choice. Selected ākonga will begin their journey through the current Te Ara Putake programme (New Zealand Certificate in Study and Career Preparation Level 4). They will evolve from learners into employment and/or study options at degree level, and will be supported with a 6–10-week transition into employment. Support will also be available once they gain employment in the field of their choice. 

This pilot was created through the collaborative efforts of Wintec | Te Pūkenga, Te Whatu Ora NZ and the Ministry of Social Development. The collective leadership model is led by Rose Marsters (Wintec | Te Pūkenga, Strategic Pacific Director), Tamati Peni (Te Whatu Ora NZ, Interim Pacific Lead) and Marouna James (Ministry of Social Development/Public Services). 

Each organisation will provide support in different ways for each ākonga involved in the Wayfinder project with a lens on equity approach. Phase development for the project has involved all partners and collaborators through a co-design process to determine action and communication plans. An example of shared resource is the establishment of Te Whatu Ora NZ Pacific staff member, available onsite one day a week, who will provide a ‘tuakana’ support role in preparedness skills for approaching and participating in practice placements for health programmes. This will provide a clinical and cultural support that provides relevance and develops confidence.

Rose Marsters, Strategic Pacific Director at Wintec | Te Pūkenga, acknowledged the support of mana whenua representatives in the ceremony and said it was a very emotive day.  

“It’s about our ākonga,” she said before speaking directly to the invited ākonga at the launch: “this project demonstrates a collective intention that is invested in your journey not just now, but into the future”. 

“There is a requirement for a stronger and more relevant workforce in the Waikato region because of Covid. This pilot is a response to this need. This project will also demonstrate an equity approach being led by Pacific for Pacific and will become an exemplar of a systemic change that promotes a learning environment that addresses inequities and promotes improved outcomes for Pacific,” Marsters said.

Tamati Peni, Te Whatu Ora NZ, Interim Pacific Lead addressed the ākonga present, telling them they were both needed and wanted.

“You need to be up here on this stage taking us to the next level. We have jobs for you. There are places here for you to contribute. Believe in yourself, like we do,” he said.

Marouna James, Ministry of Social Development/Public Services representative said to the ākonga in attendance, he and everyone present were hoping they would all find their path.

“We are here to support you. This has been a collaborative creation, and interagency collaboration creates pathways for our people,” he said.

TeUrikore Biddle, Pouārahi Māori at Wintec | Te Pūkenga, said in the last two years Māori and Pacific had been building a relationship with each other through Tōia Mai to develop a pathway for Pacific and now we are implementing it.

“It’s great to have Te Whatu Ora NZ and the Ministry of Social Development on board with the Wayfinder project. I’m very proud of what we have achieved in such a short time,” she said.

After the launch of Wayfinder, Oire Pacific’s new space, C4LOVE was opened with a blessing and shared kai. The space is beside the Wintec Atrium, is forward facing to the community and its visual design depicts the different Pacific languages of ‘love’ which announces its purpose, values and intention of the creation of the space for Pacific ākonga, kaimahi and communities.

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