Tagata Pasifika The Pacific voice on New Zealand television since 1987

The Ōtara youth helping young people cope with lockdown

otara status youth collective
Ōtara Status Youth Collective. Photo: Facebook
Ann-Tauilo Motuga | Videographer

Empowering young people to be champions of change is at the heart of the Ōtara Status Youth Collective (ŌSYC).

Birthed under the Know Your Status Community Trust (KYSCT), the collective is made up of young leaders from Ōtara, Papatoetoe, Manukau and Botany.

They’ve been a saving grace for families struggling to make ends meet during lockdown, assisting Ōtara Kai Village and Clover Park Community House to distribute kai and wellness packs around Tāmaki Makaurau.

“We know what our families go through,” says Director of KYSCT Candy Tusini-Rex.

“Our young people have been hit hard with managing school, work and family on top of exams. Some in our collective are experiencing this right now.”

ŌSYC also provides mental health initiatives to help youth cope over lockdown. Their Social Media Wellness Response videos share wellness advice from young leaders as well as activities to stay active.

“Your mental health and wellbeing comes first before school or anything else,” says Deputy Head Girl of Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate Monika Fakaosilea.

“Cool! You passed your assessment. But is that actually gonna help you when you’re burnt out?”

“Think about yourself once in a while.”

Another online initiative is the Young Men and Women’s Club, which helps Pasifika youth build leadership skills and resilience.

“These opportunities not only provide a sense of community but help our young people see the bigger picture of community-based and youth-led initiatives,” Tusini-Rex says.

“Although these are testing times and [it] seems like everyone may feel stripped from their freedom, this is only temporary. [We] encourage you to take on activities that can help mitigate the risk of mental distress.”

Tusini-Rex would like to acknowledge Youth Development leads Antoinette TiaTia, Harmony Siaea and Semisi Havili for all their work in assisting the Ōtara Status Youth Collective.

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