|National Project Coordinator
|Tonga IW R2R, Natural Resources Division, Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources
Tell us a little bit about yourself:
I grew up in Kolofo’ou, Nuku’alofa, Tonga.
There was 12 of us kids (now 11), 2 adopted brothers, and never ending number of cousins and sibling’s friends were at home at all time until later in my high schools years. My mother’s motto and lecture to me was …”to love others” at all times. At the age of 8. My older sisters registered me as a Tonga Red Cross Youth and Volunteer. I guess all these became the basis of my passions…to help others especially those in need.
My hobbies are playing netball & volleyball. Hanging out with friends. Lately, studying, learning and researching becomes a hobbies, but I still ask for extensions when it comes to submitting my JCU assignments with R2R.
I studied Business Management in Otago University (New Zealand). When I returned to Tonga, I got a job opportunity with Ministry of Finance then National Reserve Bank of Tonga. I realized then I do not really enjoy working with numbers inside a strict working environment.
In 2010, one of my friend informed me of a project vacancy (Administrative Officer) with the Planning & Urban Management Agency (now known as the National Spatial Planning Authority Office) within the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources. I decided to write and after the interview I was told straight away that I got the job. This was my first encounter of development and planning work.
And I loved because it relates to my passion of helping others.
To me planning and development work means making the lives of people in Tonga better. Whether it’s better road for easy access to their homes and plantation; better and stronger house to withstand cyclones, plan economic activities to provide families with job opportunities and much more. I loved doing this everyday.
Once I realized that this work aligned with my passion, I began to seek opportunities to study more about it. And I was fortunate to get introduced to DAAD SPRING Program where I studied 1 year in Germany and 1 year in the Philippines for my Master of Science in Regional Development Management and Planning.
Why did you become involved with Pacific Ridge to Reef?
Returning from studying I was placed within the National Spatial Planning Authority Office within the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, however, there was no available post at the time.
In July 2017 I was informed that a vacancy is being advertised by the Natural Resources Division. I hesitated at first because it is a Project Manager role but I was encouraged by colleagues. I was excited and nervous once I was informed that I am the successful applicant.
What have been your key contributions?
-Training staff in order to assist with implementation
-The voice of R2R
Why is this important?
The design of the project to have only 1 project staff (Project Manager) left the National IW R2R with no choice but to give all responsibilities such as those listed above to the Project Manager.
And in order for a successful implementation and for Tonga IW R2R to reach its end target, the above role is a must.
What have been your key learnings?
I have many learnings through R2R. But choosing amongst them, it will have to be Earth Ecosystems and its Connectivities. Something that I’ve learned through the JCU Course.
Learning and understanding this concept has add value to my Project Management role.
How will these experiences help you or provide opportunities for you/your community/your country in the future?
These learnings and experiences through R2R will be with me from now on. And no matter what job opportunity I will come across, I have a strong feeling that I will from now on join others in being keepers of Tonga’s natural environment, making sure that it is healthy for us today and for those in the future.
What is a key message you would like to share on the importance of Ridge to Reef for people know?
The Ridge to Reef programme gave me an understanding of our environment. The more people that understands the environment, the more we will be able to save it for us and for the future.