/ Growing From Your Roots
2a Bachelor o Social Work (with honours), a postgraduate Diploma in Social Sciences, and aMasters o Philosophy in Social Policy.At the age o 25, Aeaki-Mafle’o began
a new support services agencythat would connect local young women with role models who could mentor and educatethem on various lie skills. In particular, Aeaki-Mafle’o targeted those young women whowere seen as being “at-risk” because they were identifed as being involved in teenage pros-titution or had suicidal tendencies. She knows that every young person has potential, and hergoal is to ensure that every one o them can connect with an adult who would be a positiveinuence in helping to achieve that potential.In the early days o her agency, Aeaki-Mafle’o ran the servicesrom a two-bedroom unit (belonging to a grand-aunt) in Papatoetoe.
She survived without government unding, relying instead on dona-tions and church tithes.
proved successul andgained attention, and government contracts soon ollowed.The agency expanded its services to also include mentoring toyoung men, and children, and the business name was changed to
Aeaki-Mafle’o moved into a larger Papatoetoehome in order to accommodate her growing team o Pasifka menand women who had been employed as mentors. Within a short time, over 400 young stu-dents each year were participating in an
mentoring programme in a SouthAuckland school.• Mentoring is the process o helping young people achieve wellbeing as they grow intoadulthood. The aim o mentoring is holistic personal development which supports physical,emotional, mental, and spiritual wellbeing, and osters healthy amily, community and culturalrelationships.The mentoring process reaches into areas that are not usually accessed by our ormaleducation system. It helps young people establish goals and learning journeys that are woveninto a wider context o their communities and cultures.In the Pacifc, the traditional way that young people have been mentored is in the contexto large amilies and community collectiveness. But, to a New Zealand-born generation, theiramilies are aced with completely new challenges which put considerable strain on thesetraditional bonds. They need to know how to navigate between two worlds and two sets oexpectations — the Pālagi (European majority) world and the Pasifka world o their ances-tral cultures.Aeaki-Mafle’o: “As Pasifka people, we share commonalities that set us apart, such as ourreligious and amily belies, our identifcation with culture, our inherently collective response,and our shared history o migration. We have also attempted to import the values and princi-ples ound in our home cultures to New Zealand, in order to keep our amilies healthy.“The Pālagi majority seems to expect that we should have let part o ourselves and ourculture back in the islands, making sacrifces so that our children could ft in. Pasifka youthhave to deal with a lot o peer pressure, and the stereotypes o media. There is sometimes a