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Gut wrenching shake… but we’re here for each other

Le Va invited Christchurch board member and youth leader Josiah Tuamali’i to write about his experiences in the latest Christchurch earthquakes. You can also read more from him in The Wireless Shake Up series.  

Josiah is a New Zealand born Samoan who grew up in Christchurch and Dunedin. At 14 he was the Prime Minister in the Pacific Youth Leadership and Transformation Parliamentary Simulation (2010). Through this experience he learned how important it is for young people to be able to access mentoring, and that being able to contribute to decision-making at all levels is an important way to support development, success and the potential to thrive. 
A year into his leadership journey, the Canterbury Earthquakes struck, and PYLAT worked with other young people to support the recovery and rebuild. PYLAT has and continues to advocate for Pasifika young people to participate in and be supported to engage in our democracy as well as working to allievate barriers to social inclusion.

In 2013 Josiah took on the role of Chairperson. Since then PYLAT has become a Charitable Trust having a more cemented presence in Christchurch and is growing to have national influence. 

Josiah sits on a number of boards to support Pasifika youth engagement and youth participation but also for young people more widely. He also studies Political Science and History at the University of Canterbury.

On the Valentine’s Day earthquake (14 February, 2016) I was working with some friends at uni. We’d been there for about an hour, then the shaking started. 

Even though it was probably only a minute, the vibrations seemed to go on and on. Once the ground stopped, I cautiously got out from under the desk and checked in on my friends who had run under door frames. I began texting my family in East Christchurch to see if they were alright. I was relieved to hear that my family were good, and that no one in Christchurch was physically injured.

Unlike the quakes over 2010-11 this one, basically five years after the anniversary of 22 February 2011, this was the most gut wrenching. After not having a major quake since 2012, it seemed like we were in the clear and people were able to move on. 

This earthquake made me think about how we make it through tough times, but sometimes we get reminders, or things come up which can trigger difficult feelings that we had. 

The important thing is knowing that we can work through these by being surrounded by others who love, inspire and bring hope to us. We can also get that sense of belongingness and security from embracing our culture and spirituality (see Le Va’s Top Tactics).

So for us, we went and hung out on the Ilam fields at uni singing some old school songs like Gangasta’s Paradise, lol, and knowing that as a region we’ve made it this far together, and we’d continue to.

By the way, Le Va’s GPS conference is on 20-22 April 2016, and is being developed with Pasifika youth leaders. This conference is one practical way to fill up the tank if you’re wanting to share and learn, while being able to emerge yourself in a space that fulfils the Top Tactics.” 

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Face-to-face workshops will not continue while New Zealand is at Level 4. We will be in contact with all participants soon.