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Wave of success for Otago Pacific interns

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(From left) Pacific Island Centre Community Liaison Officer Christine Anesone, Hon Kris Faafoi and (second from right, back) Hon Jenny Salesa with Otago Pacific students who gained Tupu Tai Programme summer internships

Otago students are riding a wave of success after filling half of the places offered by several government departments backing a 2017 summer internships programme.

At the Tupu Tai Pasifika Public Sector Internship Launch, held in Wellington on 20 November, nine of the 18 internships offered to students from universities from around New Zealand were awarded to Otago Pacific students and recent graduates.

The students will gain invaluable public sector experience under the initiative, which is a joint programme between MBIE, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ministry for the Environment, Ministry of Defence, State Services Commission and Treasury.

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Sina Ete with parents Mele Wendt and Eteuati Ete

Applicants choose where they will spend their paid 10-week summer internship working in policy, procurement and project management areas.

Pacific Island Centre Community Liaison Officer Christine Anesone attended the event, and says calling the students together for a group photo led to a “career-highlight moment”.

“When the Ministers [the Hon Jenny Salesa and Hon Kris Faafoi] joined us for the group shot they couldn’t believe how many internships had gone to Otago students. I was very, very proud. I think the success really shows the quality of the applicants and reflects the hard work our Pacific staff do to encourage our students to apply for these opportunities.”

Otago Bachelor of Commerce and Master of Business Administration student Mary Jane Kivalu says she is looking forward to her State Services Commission internship.

“I am grateful for this opportunity and I am extremely proud of my fellow scarfies who are in the programme with me. Hopefully together we can make the Pacific community, and the Otago community, proud.”

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Hon Jenny Salesa and Esther Mata'afa

The Hon Jenny Salesa thanked all ministries for participating and encouraged students to form networks and working relationships with staff and other interns.

Minister Kris Faafoi closed the ceremony by enjoining interns not to forget the attributes that made them attractive applicants, and to focus on bringing their experiences and personal knowledge of Pacific issues to the summer positions.

MBIE Chief Advisor Pasifika Matalena Leaupepe says the annual internships are aimed at showing Pacific young people that the public sector is a great place to build a meaningful career, hone skills and make a difference.

‘Tupu’ means ‘to grow’ and ‘Tai’ means ‘tide’ in a number of Pacific dialects and the programme’s name alludes to the participant’s desire to further young Pacific peoples’ potential, as an increasing force in New Zealand’s workforce. An important part of the MBIE’s Pacific Economic Strategy is building more sustainable job opportunities for Pacific people, particularly in areas that will enhance their transferable skills and earning potential, she says.

Otago Interns:
Patrick Gibson LLB, BA (Politics) – Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Esther Mata’afa BA (Anthropology) graduate – MBIE Pasifika Team
Malia Vehikite BAppSc (Hons) – Department of Conservation
Tausala Fruean LLB and BA (Geography) – Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Mary Jane Kivalu BCom, MBA – State Services Commission
Olita Katia BA, BCom – MBIE Procurement Team
Nera Tautau BA, LLB – MBIE Strategic Policy Team
Sina Ete BA (Politics), BCom – Ministry of Women
Tiana Felix-Hotham BCom, LLB – MBIE Procurement Team