Canterbury Pacific learners off to a fresh and energetic start with SPACPAC

Issue: Volume 103, Number 4

Posted: 4 April 2024
Reference #: 1HAftA

Now in its 14th year of running, SPACPAC, a programme organised by the Ministry of Education in partnership with local Canterbury secondary schools and the Pacific community, has returned with a jam-packed agenda sure to keep young Pacific learners equipped with the tools they need to succeed. 

Education Gazette explores the programmes’ term 1 journey of helping Pacific secondary school students reach their full potential.

Secondary school teachers and liaisons at the SPACPAC Pacific Leadership Retreat.

Secondary school teachers and liaisons at the SPACPAC Pacific Leadership Retreat.

Pacific learners in Canterbury have had an exciting and rewarding start to the year with the support of sPACIFICally Pacific (SPACPAC).

With the aim of fostering academic excellence and holistic growth among Pacific learners, the SPACPAC programme embarks on its annual journey with two pivotal initiatives: the SPACPAC Leadership Retreat and the SPACPAC Canterbury Pacific Youth Awards.

“It’s important for the [Pacific learners’] educational journey to see tangible support from their school and local community, and to have their languages and cultures embraced by the very people that help shape their learning. At its core, this is what SPACPAC is about,” explains Viane Makalio, the Ministry of Education’s lead advisor Pacific engagement in Canterbury and co-chair of the SPACPAC Collective.

“Both initiatives serve as an opportunity to nurture the achievements of these young learners while also boosting the visibility of their achievements to their fellow Pacific learners, so that they may follow in their footsteps.”

Leading by example

The well-known saying ‘o le ala I le pule o le tautua’ (the pathway to leadership is through service) is widely embraced by Samoans as a fundamental life principle. Although Samoan, the sentiment of the adage holds true across many Pacific nations.

The SPACPAC leadership retreat centres itself on fostering these values of Pacific leadership and encouraging participants to put their best foot forward in their service as leaders.

The retreat had a full agenda for over one hundred Pacific student leaders from 25 schools across Canterbury, including special guests from the Marlborough region, as they engaged in workshops on leadership, governance, and Pacific identity/belonging.

An important part of the day was bridging their opportunities to meet with peers and community leaders from across the region.

Marlborough Girls’ College student leaders Ginaietta and Funaki shared their highlights of the day and encouragement for their fellow Pacific juniors looking to follow suit.

“What I enjoyed the most [about the leadership retreat] was talking about our dreams for the future, I’ve learned how to be a stronger and better leader for my school and community,” Ginaietta gleamed.

Funaki added, “I want to encourage you [Pacific students] to step up, whether it’s in sports or academic fields or leadership. Just step out there and give it your all. I know that if you give your all and you put your mind and heart into it, you’ll achieve it.”

Pacific deputy and head students in Canterbury and Marlborough.

Pacific deputy and head students in Canterbury and Marlborough.

Celebrating success

These initiatives not only enrich the educational experience for Pacific learners but also contribute to the diversity and inclusivity of the broader learning environment.

Through its commitment to equity and cultural responsiveness, SPACPAC continues to make strides in championing the success of Pacific learners and promoting educational excellence for all.

The SPACPAC Canterbury Pacific Youth Awards is an opportunity for students, parents, schools, and the wider community to celebrate academic high achievers for the 2023 academic year, cultural excellence, tautua/service, Pacific leadership, and an overall supreme winner.

The award aims to look beyond a one-dimensional definition of success and prides itself on acknowledging the many avenues success can stem from.

Heinrich, Year 13 at St Bede’s College and Nina Oberg Humphries, sponsor of this year’s Measina Creative Award.

Heinrich, Year 13 at St Bede’s College and Nina Oberg Humphries, sponsor of this year’s Measina Creative Award.

By nature, Pacific peoples are drawn to the arts and its roots in self-expression. Whether through a visual or verbal medium, storytelling is a cornerstone for Pacific creatives. One student who has found success in this area is Heinrich, Year 13 at St Bede’s College and this year’s winner of the Measina Creative Award.

“I’m very motivated by my family and my friends, they push me to be the best person I can be. God also motivates me to be the best person I can be,” says Heinrich.

“My school supports me by giving me the opportunities to further my knowledge and experience in different cultures and activities so that I can decide if I want to pursue that career. My goal is to be an actor or sportsman,” he adds.


A snapshot of the year ahead

The SPACPAC programme will continue in what is shaping up to being their biggest year yet.

At the time of writing this article, preparations for the Canterbury SPACPAC Polyfest are in full effect.

Polyfest in Canterbury has gone from strength to strength, drawing in massive crowds to fill Hagley Park – a true testament of community support.

Initiatives throughout the year will cover many interests of students including the Aneriueta (Teta) Pao-Sopoanga Pasifika Speech Competition that can also help learners gain NCEA credits and a Dragons’ Den event for business-minded Pacific learners.

A Pacific Expo hosted at Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre will also provide a general overview of future careers and employment opportunities, offering a chance for students to meet with Pacific people in these careers and employment.

The SPACPAC organisers emphasise that these initiatives are just a stepping stone in showing what is possible for these young Pacific learners and credit schools’, learners’, and communities’ partnership and involvement in making this programme what it is today.

Congratulations to all the winners of the 2024 SPACPAC Canterbury Pacific Youth Awards:

  • Lincoln Mamuta, SPACPAC Community Engagement Award
  • Heinrich Muller, SPACPAC Measina Creative Award
  • Luatimu Taaso, SPACPAC Mana Leadership Award
  • Dormay Laufiso, SPACPAC Sports Game Changer Award
  • Ryder Tuitea, SPACPAC Science Excellence Award
  • Te Aratai College, SPACPAC Trailblazing Innovation Award
  • Angie Vaea, SPACPAC Cultural Navigator Award
  • Dereon Maka, SPACPAC Charity/Volunteer Award
  • Burnside High School, SPACPAC Commitment to Wellbeing Award
  • Adi Jean Velodroka Teinakore, SPACPAC English Excellence Award
  • Ariana Tait, SPACPAC Maths Excellence Award
  • Yash Naicker, SPACPAC Academic Excellence Award
  • Hannibal Ikahihifo, SPACPAC Special Award: Pacific Champion: Teacher/Staff
SPACPAC Award winners 2024.

SPACPAC Award winners 2024.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 11:04 am, 4 April 2024

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