‘A fruit salad of the pacific’ Otara Market, South Auckland.

A massive influence on New Zealand is the mix of people that make up its population. As well as the native Maori there are other minority groups from the pacific island communities (amongst them Tonga, Fifji, Samoa, and the Cook Islands) as well as the majority – commonly referred to as Pakeha which in the Maori language means coming from European descent. This is developed further by a regular flux of new arrivals to the country – both from these countries as well as from other places such as Asia and Australia, meaning there is a fascinating melting pot of communities developing in different areas.

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In the educational world, Maori and Pacifica communities get a lot of attention as these communities typically do not perform as well academically as their Pakeha counterparts. New Zealand though is widely seen by many as having a strong educational model, although one which has low equity within some communities.

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South Auckland is the heart of the Maori and Pacifica communities in Auckland. It is a vibrant area but one that has had negative stereotypes associated with it. In the busy Otara Market I chatted with Nadeen who grew up locally and who now works as a high school teacher at a nearby school. Nadeen’s family is from Samoa and she is passionate about South Auckland and the potential this community holds.

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Hear her thoughts on Otara and the ambition question.

Returning to the Rugby theme that is pretty central to kiwi culture, one of the most famous residents of South Auckland was Jonah Lomu. 

Lomu, following his arrival on the world scene in 1995 was arguably the first true global international superstar in rugby and has always been renowned for his single-man demolition job of England in the tournament.

In a documentary he talked openly about growing up in South Auckland – both of the dangers that went with it – especially of fights and gangs, but also of the huge sense of pride and attachment he gained from growing up there.

Despite this astonishing arrival, Lomu though had severe kidney problems and these continued to affected him throughout his playing career.

‘I was on dialysis for 18 months before the transplant, so it was important I tried to look ahead to days like my comeback this Saturday. You need those big goals to drive you on.’


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