Internship programme for Pacific youth a success

For the past year, Charles Salt has been working as a Project Support Officer at the Pasifika Medical Association (PMA). It’s a full-time role that he secured after he was an intern as part of Tupu Toa, an internship programme that serves as a pathway providing professional opportunities for Māori and Pacific tertiary students in corporate, government and community organisations.

“This programme has meant a lot to me and has provided me with an opportunity that my parents and grandparents never had,” Charles says, who started with the PMA after he completed his Bachelor of Health Science at AUT.

“We’ve always had Pacific excellence, but this helps guide young people like me into the right direction.”

Last month, days before the county went into its second lockdown of the year, Charles, 23, celebrated the success of the five-year-old Tupu Toa programme at a special event held in Auckland. It was a night acknowledging the interns, their families and partner organisations like the PMA, and an array of top corporate, government and social entities.

More than 800 people attended the occasion and the Minister for Pacific Peoples, Hon Aupito William Sio, was the guest speaker.

“Many of our Pacific youth have the skills and the drive but don’t have the exposure to the corporate world and our voices aren’t heard. TupuToa is showing us that Pacific success in these sectors can be normalised” shared Minister Sio, during his keynote address.

Fellow Tupu Toa intern, David Tupou, 22, is currently in his fourth year at law school at the University of Auckland and has been interning at the PMA during his summer break.  He started back at university this week, amid Auckland’s Alert Level 3 lockdown.

He says the Tupu Toa programme has given him an insight into what can be achieved once he finishes his law degree.

“It made me feel that I’m not alone in my struggles of being a young brown person in the corporate space.  It has given me the experience and the people skills that I can take anywhere, and it has taught me that you have to be passionate about whatever career you pursue.”


Date: Saturday 06 March 2021