Pacific interns share their perspectives on housing
Published 18 Dec 23
Three interns who have joined Te Tūāpapa Kura Kāinga – Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are passionate about improving outcomes for Pacific communities and making a difference in the public service.
Shannah-Leigh Fiso, Neida Te’o and Pepe Akauola are successful applicants under the Tupu Tai Pasifika Public Sector Summer Internship Programme which offers placements in several government agencies. The programme is managed by MBIE’s Langa Le Vā (Pacific Policy) team.
The trio joined HUD in November and will be working here for 14 weeks while learning about public policy and our work, building professional networks, and sharing Pacific perspectives on the important issue of housing. They are based in HUD’s Māori Housing, Tenancy and Tenures and Impacts and Evaluation teams.
For Shannah-Leigh, who has completed her four-year degree in social work at Whitireia, the internship complements her studies and the work she has already been doing. “I have previously worked at Kokiri Marae Health and Social Services, supporting whānau to live a violence free, healthy lifestyle and re-engage them into Te Ao Māori. I’ve also worked with whānau who have experienced homelessness and supported them into long-term housing.”
Neida, a fourth-year law and arts student at Auckland University, says the internship means a lot to her and her family. “I’m really interested in learning about the housing situation and processes within Aotearoa New Zealand and am motivated by making my family proud of the work I’m doing.”
Pepe, also in her final year of a law and arts degree at Auckland University, says she was inspired to apply for the internship after attending a seminar where Judge Tania Sharkey emphasised the significance of Pacific representation. “This statement resonated with me and grounded my motivation to apply for the programme. For me, this is an opportunity to serve and learn.”
A former intern, Kuini Vidal, now a Senior Policy Advisor in the Māori Housing Policy team, knows the value of the opportunity. “I was in the Housing Access and Support team over the summer of 2019/20. I learned so much and, having grown up in public housing and watched members of my aiga go through emergency housing, I knew social policy was where I wanted to be.
“When I saw a role advertised in the Māori Housing Policy team, I knew it was my ideal next step after completing the graduate programme at MBIE. I’ve now been here for two and half years and am extremely privileged to serve my communities and work in spaces where my people are severely underrepresented.”
HUD has been involved in the Tupu Tai programme for several years. It not only contributes to growing the diversity of the public sector workforce, but also directly supports HUD’s diversity and inclusion goals.