Trish Tupou and growing up in a changing climate

We had the privilege of having one of our very talented Youth Action Komiti (YAK) members, Trish Tupou, present in the suicide and violence prevention stream at #GPS2016.

For Pasifika, our understanding, interactions and links to the environment are important components of our wellbeing. In a holistic sense, violence also includes times when we soli le va (harm the space) with and between ourselves, as well as our environment.

24-year-old Trish is currently a postgraduate student at the University of Auckland, and of Tongan and Irish descent. Trish gives rise to the theme of full participation – she has championed climate change internationally, having briefed International aid agency UNICEF as well as New Zealand parliamentarians on climate change and the impact facing young people.

Trish’s presentation aligned with her dissertation work on climate change in the Pacific and indigenous knowledge around the environment. Trish asserted a powerful and thoughtful message on climate change:

"I see our wellbeing as Pasifika peoples as inherently connected to our relationship with our environment. Therefore, when our environment is threatened by climate change-induced disasters, the effects on our health and identities could be catastrophic. Through nurturing our connection with the environment and looking after our ecological world, we can ensure that the future will be bright for the next generation of Pasifika.

We must protect our island homelands and preserve the mana embodied there against the effects of climate change." 

Trish wrapped up her address with a spoken word piece titled An Unexplored Ocean, which challenged us all with a call to action. 

An Unexplored Ocean  

The Palangi man at SPC said
your ocean is the
most unexplored place
on Earth
there has been more
exploration of Mars
than the depths of
the Pacific Ocean
but
does he know
that the fibres
that connect us
lay underneath this
heavy water
messages from Okalani
to Nuku’alofa
carried in the precious
vessel of the World Wide Web
Tangaroa, god of the sea
carries my words
in his current
just to say
Fefe hake Aunty?

Does he know
that we are
united beyond physical
boundaries
transcending his
scientific knowledge
with our own
indigenisation of
connectivity

This unexplored ocean
Our ocean
this deep and
heavy body
of water
holds the explorations of
a thousand identities
over thousands of years
the matter that we
know exists there
our mana
will never
be uncovered to the
eyes of those
who don’t even
know what they
are looking for.

Trish Tupou speaking at #GPS2016.

Trish Tupou speaking at #GPS2016.

About the author
Yvonne is a Senior Project Co-ordinator for Le Va, primarily working on the FLO: Pasifika for life suicide prevention programme. She’s also a registered nurse with over 20 years’ experience specialising in various areas such as sexual/reproductive health, adolescent health and nurse-led clinics.

More about Yvonne Kainuku