THE LAUNCH OF THE AKONGOUE PROGRAM
At the beginning of the year, a new program was launched by Tongan Youth Trust known as the Akongoue Horticulture Programme. The goal of the program is to equip pacific youths with uplifting skills and a career pathway in the horticulture sector. The Akongoue/Horticulture is a massive demand in New Zealand as it is the fastest-growing sector, but there is less interest in horticulture shown from Tongan and Pacific youths.
The idea of the Akongoue program started from the conversation between the Ministry for Primary Industries and ‘Ikilifi Pope [CEO of Tongan Youth Trust] in 2021, about horticulture and how it is not well known to our pacific youths. From the Ministry for Primary Industries, we had Melaia Lousi, she is the Manager of the regional workforce looking after delivering new developments and opportunities such as the Akongoue Programme.
The Akongoue program with further discussion and consideration by Lousi collaborated the program with other industries including the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, Ministry of Pacific People, and the training organization New Zealand Sports Turf Institute (NZSTI). Including schools that took an interest in joining the Program. With the foundation of the Akongoue being new and beneficial to pacific youths, most principles from schools around South Auckland supported the idea.
The schools involved in the program are Aorere College, Wesley College, Papakura High, and Pukekohe High. The program targeted to enroll 20 students but because of the number of attendants exceeding with a lot more students showing an interested in Horticulture, TYT decided to enroll 30 students this year including listing for next year’s course.
At the launch of the Akongoue Program, we had the Ministry of Pacific People, Hon. Aupito Su’a William Sio, Sir Michael Jones, Rev. Siosifa Pole [Director mission resourcing unit, MCNZ] including church leaders and representatives from the community.