How can I make a difference as a Tongan?

September 8, 2023

Victoria’s passion is ensuring that the financial wellbeing of the Pacific communities in New Zealand is protected.

Ever since her first job with Tamaki Budgeting in 2017, Victoria has been passionate about protecting the financial wellbeing of the Pacific communities in Aotearoa. During her time there, she saw a significant number of Pacific families struggling financially.

She said:

“I had a lot of Pacific clients that were struggling with debt. For some of them it was because they didn’t have the knowledge and tools to make informed financial decisions”.

Working as a financial mentor resulted in Victoria changing her Master’s Degree from human resource and marketing to social and community leadership.

In her time at Good Shepherd, Victoria has worked as a Financial Wellbeing Coach and Team Leader for our DEBTsolve programme

Today, Victoria is working part-time as a Financial Wellbeing Advocate focusing on community outreach while also studying full-time doing her PHD at The University of Auckland. Her Research Topic is “Cultural Financial Capability – A Case Study of the New Zealand Tongan Community.

Good Loans Team Leader Vijay and Victoria

Raising awareness

She splits her time between three social services in Auckland including Tamaki Budgeting at Glen Innes, The Salvation Army Royal Oak and Manukau. Part of her role involves working directly with their Financial Mentors, and helping their clients gain control of their unmanageable debt. Having the opportunity to be on the ground, seeing clients face to face is one of the biggest differences she has seen in this role.

Seeing clients face to face means barriers are being broken down– it’s easy for document sharing, filling out forms, but most importantly, communication with clients

When Victoria moved from Tonga to New Zealand in 2015, she was surprised by the different financial systems, the readily available credit and how little she knew about it despite working for a financial institution previously in Tonga.

Victoria learnt about the easy access to credit through one of her family members who suggested, when she arrived, that she should buy a brand-new car through a repayment scheme.

Luckily for me, I had already bought a second-hand car with my savings. Otherwise, it might have been a different story.

Now, Victoria uses her knowledge and experiences to educate clients about how Aotearoa’s financial system works and understand where their money goes when they are paying off debts; helping people to think about their finances differently.


Making a difference

Victoria is motivated by her community and her clients. She told us she asks herself constantly: “How can I make a difference as a Tongan?

The answers have shaped her education and career – to help others to empower themselves. She knows that in the communities she works with when you’re working with one person it means you’re working with the community. The more people she can work alongside and impart her knowledge can only mean better financial outcomes for more communities.

Tu’a ‘Ofa Atu Victoria.

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