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Futures that Work programme – a collective journey for recipient and family

“Oh man, it was such a relief,” says Tu’uta Maue of the moment he received confirmation he had been awarded a Futures that Work scholarship,

“Telling my wife, sharing the news with my family, I was so over the moon,” says Tu’uta, who is of Tongan descent from the villages of Tokomololo and ‘Ofu, Vavau. Tu’uta also has lineage back to the village of Fasitootai in Samoa. “I have family responsibilities, a mortgage, young kids… knowing I would receive financial help – that alleviated a lot of stress. It really impacted positively on my family.”

Tu’uta is in his second year of a Bachelor of Nursing Studies at the Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT), funded in part by the Le Va Futures that Work scholarship and mentoring programme. A dedicated family man, Tu’uta is studying – and working – full-time. “This journey isn’t an individual one, it’s been a real collective journey for me and my family,” Tu’uta says.

A space in which to give back

It was family that inspired Tu’uta to choose a career dedicated to helping Pasifika people. When he was called to support his father through ill health, Tu’uta felt passionately about giving back to his community.

Building on more than a decade of experience working at the Mason Clinic, a dedicated service in Tamaki Makaurau providing Forensic Mental Health Services, Tu’uta enrolled at MIT. And the insight he has gained into the health sector to date, has reinforced Tu’uta’s desire to support Pasifika mental health and addiction.

“Forensic mental health is the one for me,” Tu’uta says. “It’s my bread and butter, it’s what I’ve been gifted with. Helping people and families.”

Mentoring makes a difference

Tu’uta may have found his calling, but he’s still a minority in forensic mental health services, something he hopes will change in the coming years. “Community services have a lot more of our people, but in forensic mental health, there is still a real need for Pasifika in this space,” he says.

Tu’uta has been supported through his studies, not just by his family, work colleagues and his manager, but by the Le Va team and the Futures that Work mentoring programme. Monthly mentoring workshops enabled Tu’uta to interact with other Futures that Work programme recipients, sharing experiences and cultural narratives he’s able to take back to his own community.

“A lot of good stuff comes out of the networking opportunities that Le Va provides,” Tu’uta says. “There have been topics we’ve discussed that have really stayed with me. I’ve taken them to work in the evenings and shared them with my colleagues. It’s a really encouraging environment, being exposed to people who are all seeking higher learning.

“And it’s awesome to see that even though Pasifika are a minority, one day some of those people that were in the same room I am, will be out there making a real difference,” he says.

The benefit of knowledge and education

Having experienced the benefits of Le Va’s Futures that Work programme, Tu’uta is quick to encourage others to spend the time going through the application.

“If someone is thinking of applying, I’d first say to them, don’t be shy or feel ashamed about actively seeking the financial assistance that is on offer.”

“And secondly, if they’re stuck on that thought, I’d ask them, why wouldn’t you apply? There’s no harm in trying. If it’s on offer and you’re successful, you’ll be grateful for it, and so many people will benefit from your application.”

Tu’uta retells the story of a friend he encouraged to apply to the programme. “I kept telling the old mate to apply. We’d be kicking him up the backside saying he just had to do it. And when he heard he’d been successful in getting on the programme, man there were some tears.”

“Through knowledge and education we’re better equipped to deal with and educate our people. Sit down for 30minutes and complete that application form. Do it for your family, your community, your church… do it for our people.”

Applications for the 2022 Le Va Futures that Work scholarship and mentoring programme are now open. Apply at https://www.leva.co.nz/training-education/scholarships/

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