Unitec established the board a decade ago to enable the Pacific community’s voice to be heard at a leadership and senior management level. The board has made significant progress in recent years and in 2013 it became a ‘standing committee’ with direct links to Unitec’s Council.

“We are making a positive change in terms of the way that some departments run and how they cater towards Pasifika,” says Chair Panama Leauanae.

Members

The Fono is made up of nine members, all of whom have respected backgrounds and interests in the Pacific. Pacific student issues are brought forward by a student representative who also has a place at the board’s meetings.

Because Fono Faufautua is an external group, it is able to bring a fresh viewpoint on Pacific education and a broader understanding of the challenges Pacific students face. The board looks at issues from an objective perspective and identifies areas where performance could be lifted to help Pasifika students.

“There are those types of issues that we understand which perhaps lots of other New Zealanders may not because they’ve never experienced it,” says Ken Williams, one of the Fono’s longest standing members.

It’s also important for parents to get involved with their children’s study, show their support, and create a suitable study environment at home.

Research commissioned by the Faufautua has revealed one of the most valuable insights. Literacy tests showed that many students were behind when they started at Unitec, which has led to more foundation education options to prepare Pacific students effectively.

Goals

The remit for the Fono Faufautua reflects Unitec’s Pasifika Strategy, which has four main goals:

1. To increase Pacific participation and perspective in governance and operational decision making
2. To develop, enhance and maintain relationships with Pacific communities
3. To ensure successful participation, completion and progression of Pacific students within Unitec programmes
4. To contribute to the relevance of programmes to Pacific

Progress

Unitec’s Pacific Centre for Learning, Teaching and Research measures the success of these goals every six months. The report goes to the Fono Faufautua, Unitec’s Senior Leadership team and the Council to evaluate the progress of Pacific students and gauge if faculties and departments are responding to the needs of Pacific communities.
 
In recent years there have been significant increases in the number of Pacific students successfully graduating from Unitec, which is testament to the improvements in academic and cultural support frameworks for Pacific students.