Fale Niu

November 7, 2018

Fale Niu

To celebrate a big year for our AUT 2018 students, we kick off our series of student club interviews with Fale Niu - AUT Pacific Island Student Association president Sulu-Danielle Joshua.

Could you share what the Fale Niu – AUT Pacific Island Student Association is? What is the club’s goals and objectives?

Fale Niu is a place where we can embrace, explore and share our cultures and support our students at the same time.

Fale Niu strives to build the Pasefika community here at AUT and support our students in every way we can.

Sometimes just providing a place to celebrate our culture goes a long way. There was nothing specifically for Pasefika students that I found when I went into my role as Pasifika Affairs Officer so we created Fale Niu to encourage our people to celebrate who we are and not be afraid of it!

What made you decide to start the club this year? What were some of the motivating factors to establish the club?

A big motivating factor is to give a voices to Pasefika students. I am the current Pasifika Affairs Officer for the AUTSA Student Council and was excited to take on my new role. I am also a first year so I assumed that there would already be a Pacific Island Student Association like the other big universities and I would be a link between the council and the association. I was surprised to find there was none.. Before starting Fale Niu, I spoke to some students about the idea and they were more than happy to have one here. It was that response that made us more fearless and passionate to make Fale Niu.

What types of activities does Fale Niu undertake? Could you share some of them with us?

Since starting, Fale Niu has focused a lot on the Pacific Language Weeks set by the Ministry of Pacific Peoples. We had a goal to try and bring them to life on campus to celebrate our cultures. We did this through events, language cards, and shared student stories online. It was great to see so many people want to be a part of our Language Week Celebrations especially our community. Our families would help with the set up and cooking. This is special to us because language weeks were also a way to inform our family about what university is about and what our journey looks like here. It was also a good platform to learn from our elders about the history of our cultures. There was a lot of eye-opening moments especially relationship-building. When our families understand what we have to do at university, the support gets stronger for our students. We would love to try and bring more light to other Pacific Cultures next year.

Talanoa Series was another event we planned with AUT Pacific Law Student Association. This was a networking event where students could network and socialise with free food. At the same time, they were able to provide feedback about what keeps them connected at university, how we can improve their experiences at students, and what we can do to encourage our future generations to study at further education.

We also tried our hand in mentoring sessions. With a bit more planning and a wider range of mentors, we would love to push it more next year.

Why did you decide to become involved?

I have always been passionate about Pacific Affairs but never in a million years did I think I was going to get the role of Pasifika Affairs Officer. Once I did, I knew I wanted to make the most of it to better our students’ experiences so that they could get the most of university as well. I have the platform to share my students concerns and did not want it to end at the table of a meeting.

I wanted these discussions to be ongoing and open more roles for Pacific Island students so they would want to step up to these leadership roles. I saw my role opened a lot of doors for myself, so I aim to make the same opportunities available to students at AUT. All student voices are powerful so it was more about providing more platforms to get their voices heard.

What are the benefits of being involved? What have you learnt about yourself?

Opportunities are major benefits of getting involved. Personally in this journey, one door almost always led to another…or two! I would do an event and someone would reach out to me regarding another event or send a message of support. If I reached out to someone, they would give a contact of a CEO or someone quite high which is a big deal. I was contacted a few times about many opportunities regarding a past event. It’s this experience that I also want our students to feel. Don’t be afraid to put yourselves out there. It doesn’t just help your uni life but you make connections for when you graduate too.

I used to think putting yourself out there was wild. I thought I was too embarrassed to contact certain people or promote certain things. But I did anyway. Next thing I know, I’m involved in a lot of events that I’m passionate about and not even thinking or caring about what it looks like. You never know who is watching your events – some people could be waiting to reach out to those who have similar visions. Also, you make heaps of amazing connections both at AUT and at other universities.

Why would you recommend AUT students to join Fale Niu and clubs in general?

I think for all clubs there is a sense of belonging. Just like the other clubs; we all made/run our clubs to provide a space to share our common passions. It makes making new friends easier and you get to explore more about what you love at the same time.

Fale Niu would love to be that place of support and celebration. We are open to all and just want to share who we are. We work to make sure your voices are heard and provide a space where you are not afraid to be yourself. We also know that some of our members were not brought up with their Pacific Island side and so we want to be there for them too. We want to encourage our students to try their own initiatives because now is the perfect time to do it and not be afraid to fail. University is a great place to pick yourself up and try again.

What did it mean to you and the members to win the AUTSA (AUT Student Association) Most Outstanding New Club of the Year?

It was great! For me, it meant the hard work of my team for Pasefika Students were being recognised at our own institution. My team worked hard this year to ensure our events went through – even if it meant finding an alternative if our plan A didn’t work. There are only 5 members in our executive and a few pillars outside of our team. I was happy we were awarded it more for my team and our members. We received a lot of love and support this year and the award really sealed it. Thank you to everyone for your support! Our families, friends, staff, and fellow students thank you all. We can’t wait to build more and be more active on campus next year!

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