Mālō e lelei, my name is Irene Folau and I am of Tongan heritage. I currently live in Auckland, New Zealand where I am studying engineering at the University of Auckland as a first-year student. My hunger for change has opened many opportunities for me to help my peers and community. Last year I was fortunate enough to be a wayfinder as a part of a research project for nine decile one schools in South Auckland, focusing on what it meant to be a leader. Throughout this research project, I built strong relationships with students of different backgrounds, ethnicities, and personalities who along the way reached their full potential. I learnt that my leadership skills weren't the same as those of the western perspective and that it was okay. It made me realise that leadership isn't always the loudest voice at the table but rather the mamas in the kitchen.
I am also a performing artist. I sing, dance, and act and am a member of the Black Friars Theatre Company who exist to foster performance places and practices that honour the principles of Teu Le Vā/Tauhi Vā. These are Polynesian ways of being in the world.
I am excited to be a part of the Student Leader Advisory Council and am looking forward to being a part of an international movement for change.