An E.P.I.K. time for Tauranga Pacific youth
Tauranga’s Chris Tongalea knows all about the benefits Pacific sporting role models can provide.
It inspired him to develop E.P.I.K. (Engaging Pacific Island Kids), an afterschool programme delivered by Aere Tai’s Tauranga provider Pacific Island Community (Tauranga) Trust.
Working his way towards a Social Work qualification, Chris wanted to provide a space for Pacific youth to express themselves through sports activities.
“It’s about keeping our young Pacific boys active in a fun but structured manner,” says Chris, who is of Niuean descent.
“The programme also supports our boys to understand the importance of good health and wellbeing, and to help them understand and manage the moods and behaviours which affect a lot of boys while growing up.”
The programme is held at Merivale Action Centre from 4-5.30pm on Friday afternoons. It is delivered on a voluntary basis by young Pacific male students completing workplace studies – Chris facilitates along with another student Stephen Moli.
The young local Samoan, who attended Gate Pa Primary School, Tauranga Intermediate and Tauranga Boys College before undertaking tertiary studies at Bay of Plenty Polytechnic and AUT University, believes it’s helping him achieve his ultimate aim of getting into Teachers College and returning to Tauranga to serve the Pacific community.
“Mum and Dad have been important role models throughout my life and they’ve shown me the importance of being honest and working hard to achieve my full potential,” he says.
Stephen, who also co-ordinates the circuit training and fitness sessions for PICT’s Mo’ui Lelei programme, has noticed a significant increase of Pacific people in the Tauranga-Bay of Plenty region.
He looks forward to helping the growing population.
“Growing up there weren’t too many of us (Pacific people),” Stephen says.
“But now there are heaps of us! I just want to show what you can achieve if you apply yourself and do things to the best of your ability.”
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