In December 2013 I attended a keynote presentation from Winnie Laban at the ANZSSA (Australia New Zealand Student Services Association) Conference in Wellington. Luamanuvao Winnie Laban is Assistant Vice Chancellor (Pasifika) at Victoria University of Wellington and has previously been a Member and Minister of Parliament. In 1992 she was bestowed the Samoan chiefly title of Luamanuvao.
Winnie spoke passionately to us about how education is greatly valued by Pasifika, yet achievements levels are low. Student services have the potential to mobilise the values of pacific cultures to increase participation and involvement.
At my workplace our focus has been predominantly on raising achievement levels of Māori students. Pasifika students make up 4% of our student population. Since this session I have had several discussions with staff about ways to incorporate inclusive practices for Pasifika, and a group of staff have begun informal Samoan language sharing sessions, but there is work to be done to put a sustainable plan in action for students.