23 Jan 2019

Pacific voices lost when bundled with Asia according to youth leader

2:47 pm on 23 January 2019

An emerging leader says lumping the Pacific with Asia in international fora causes the region's needs to be diluted and lost.

Tahere Si'isi'ia-lafia

Tahere Si'isi'ialafia Photo: Facebook/ UN Women

Tahere Si'isi'ialafia is the chair of the Pacific Youth Council and one of six Pacific people selected by the Obama Foundation as emerging Asia Pacific leaders.

Along with 15 others from Asia, they met in Hawai'i this month to design an Asia-Pacific youth leadership programme.

Ms Si'isi'ialafia was part of a sub-group working on the programme's sustainability.

She said she told the former US president Barack Obama that a programme was needed just for the Pacific.

"The six Pacific young people in the room were so happy because he picked it up and he said it himself. You know, he's like, 'Tahere are you saying that we need to design a specialised programme for the Pacific separate from Asia-Pacific?' And we all answered, yes!"

Tahere Si'isi'ialafia said it's now up to the Obama Foundation as to whether a separate Pacific programme will go ahead.

Other Pasifika candidates came from Guam, Hawai'i, Marshall Islands and New Zealand.