Our Alumni

Tauira o mua

TOA: TupuToa Alumni
A community of Māori and Pacific professionals

Toa: courage or courageous; the strongest tree found in the Pacific – casuarina equisetifolia, the ironwood tree; a warrior or a hero; brave, bold and courageous.

TOA’s purpose is to continue to offer personal and professional development pathways and opportunities to TupuToa alumni with a focus on early career development for those who are starting off their careers in the workforce.

TOA aims to promote and provide avenues to connect and engage with TupuToa alumni and also give back to the communities that they represent. With leadership being a major factor in necessary change, TOA will showcase and help build the leaders for a better Aotearoa.

400
TupuToa Alumni

Total number of past TupuToa interns

80
Conversion rate to Full-Time Employment

For interns eligible for graduate roles i.e. completed tertiary study

130+
Partner Network

Total number of TupuToa partners

What are the benefits of TOA?

• Alumni rates to TupuToa events and conferences

• Invitations to networking events

• Access to personal and professional development programmes

• Opportunities to experience and intern overseas

• Staying connected to a growing network of Māori and Pacific professionals shaping a greater and more inclusive Aotearoa.

• Connection to a partner network of over 130 companies and organisations in both the public and private sector

 

 

Who qualifies to be part of TOA?

Anyone who has completed at least one internship round with TupuToa is a member of TOA.

 

Meet the Alumni Team & Working Committee

Sione Taunga

Alumni Navigator

Sione is passionate about helping people grow and sees the Alumni Manager role as the perfect opportunity to help TupuToa alumni with their leadership and development journey. Having been a TupuToa Navigator earlier, he knows many of the interns personally and is well placed to support them in stepping up from internship roles and navigating their careers.

Prior to joining TupuToa, Sione had a varied career which included farms and factories, as well as being a fitness instructor and art dealer on cruise ships around the world, working as a teacher aide in Otara and as an administrator for a church in Manukau.

He holds a Bachelor of Physical Education and a Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Secondary School) from the University of Otago, is fluent in English and has Tongan language skills.

Ashleigh Webster

Alumni Navigator

Ashleigh’s work as a Navigator is a reflection of her passion to work with Māori and Pacific peoples to meet their full potential. Working in spaces previously where she was the youngest, or one of only a handful of Moana peoples in her teams helps inform her journey alongside the interns.

Ashleigh has worked previously as a Student Support Advisor at Unitec, a Scholarships Advisor and the Graduation team leader at the University of Auckland. Prior to this Ashleigh has worked in a number of other roles, a teacher aide, a retail assistant and she loves to bake!

Ashleigh graduated from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Arts double majoring in Māori and Pacific studies and has also completed the Indigenous Summer Semester Programme at the University of Columbia in the city of New York. She has basic understanding of te reo Māori and Niuean and speaks a basic level of te reo Māori.

Asena Tolungamaka

Policy Officer, Ministry of Foregin Affairs and Trade

Ha’ato’u in Pangai, Ha’apai and Hoi in Tongatapu

Asena started her journey with TupuToa in 2018, interning at Air New Zealand, being the first TupuToa Intern who has transitioned into a full time role. She has been a prominent member of the Alumni and took up the opportunity to represent in the Alumni Working Committee.

Asena says “being part of this kaupapa means a lot to me. I applied for TupuToa because I believed in the vision of the organisation, but also in the positive impact that it was already having in the lives of Māori and Pacific families and communities. I’ve experienced and seen it first hand and I feel privileged to be able to play a little part in this kaupapa.”

Looking toward the future, Asena has a bright one ahead of her, with her ambitious goals and drive. Asena has recently taken up an opportunity at MFAT (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade). Asena holds a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) Bachelor of Arts (BA) Conjoint from The University of Auckland.

Clevell Chan-Tung

Solicitor, Russell McVeagh

Sale'aula, Savai'I, Leauvaa, Upolu

Clevell interned at Russell McVeagh in 2017, working his way up from intern, to graduate, to solicitor. Clevell is now three years deep into his career.

Service through leadership holds strong with Clevell’s values, he says his why for joining the Alumni working committee is “Tautua”, a Samoan proverb – “o le ala I le pule o le tautua – the road to leadership is through service.” And Clevell says “others should join the kaupapa to strengthen the unity of our Alumni”

Clevell holds a bachelor of Laws (LLB) from The University of Auckland.

Anita Mani

HR Program Manager, Microsoft

Tatakamotonga, Tonga and Tavua, Fiji

Anita has secured full time employment with Microsoft after two previous internships at SkyCity and Laminex – Fletcher Building. Anita has also recently been able to give back, supporting the Hikohiko te Uira project, a partnership between Microsoft and TupuToa, with a vision to provide digital skills training to thousands of Māori and Pacific people.

Representation and giving back to the cause that helped her is Anita’s why, “Being able to contribute to something bigger than myself; a kaupapa that helped me begin my career is an absolute privilege. To be able to strive for an Aotearoa that includes our Māori and Pacific people within the community organisations, public sector and corporate landscape to better represent the Aotearoa we live in is important.”

Anita holds a Bachelor of Arts & Bachelor of Commerce from The University of Auckland, Anita was also involved with the Women’s Mentoring Program and was awarded the Deans Leadership Award in 2019.

Jacinta Taliai’uli

Senior Procurement Advisor at the Ministry for Pacific Peoples

Fasi Moe Afi – Tonga

Jacinta has had significant experience and exposure in the public sector, she started her TupuToa journey, interning at Air New Zealand in the Procurement team and has since moved on to Procurement roles within; Auckland Transport, Kainga Ora, Oranga Tamariki, MSD, MBIE, Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care, and most recently, joining the team at Ministry for Pacific Peoples.

Jacinta spoke at our Annual Gala Dinner event in 2021, saying “I went from a shy intern to managing multi-million dollar contracts”

Being part of a growing network of Māori and Pacific Professionals is Jacinta’s why for contributing on the Alumni Working Committee “We are all a part of this mission of growing Māori & Pacific leaders for a greater Aotearoa and it is important that we continue to stay connected.” Says Jacinta.

Jacinta holds a Bachelor of Commerce, Operations and Supply Chain Management from The University of Auckland as well Diploma and Advanced Diploma in Procurement & Supply from The Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply.

Matariki Tokararangi Katea Tawhiti Totoro

Investment Co-ordinator, Te Kupenga, Māori Economic Development Unit

Ngati Hine, Te Rarawa, Ngati Porou

Matariki started his journey with TupuToa in 2018, interning at Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and has since secured a full time role within the Māori Economic Development Unit, Matariki is passionate about his people and communities designing what success looks like; to thrive in Aotearoa.

Passionate about his mahi, Matariki has worked on projects to support the He Kai Ki Aku Ringa (HKKAR) and Māori Innovation Fund, Enabling Māori Framework, Tūhono Māori Professionals Network – Rangatahi Committee member, and amongst it all he is also the Treasurer of local volleyball club.

At the heart of it all, Matariki says he joined the Alumni Working Committee to be part of a movement “it’s the oncoming tide of Māori and Pacifica professionals who have an opportunity take on the wero (challenge) of the people who have come before us – to determine our futures, for ourselves.”

Matariki holds a Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) from Auckland University of Technology, majoring in Accounting.

Want to know more about our Alumni?