How can I make a difference as a Tongan?

September 8, 2021

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

Her passion developed when she got her first job in New Zealand, in 2017, as a financial mentor for Tamaki Budgeting Services. It was here Victoria noticed a significant number of Pacific families were struggling financially in New Zealand.

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.

Victoria is now our Team Leader for our DEBTsolve programme. She works with our Financial Wellbeing Coaches to support them with their clients; helping them gain control of their unmanageable debt by:

Loan Worker Vijay and Victoria

Understanding their unique financial situation

Working together to discover the best options

Creating a manageable budget that works for them

Equipping them with the knowledge and skills to make informed decisions

“My favourite part of DEBTsolve, other than helping someone overcome their unmanageable debt, is watching clients build the tools they need so they can be better off in the future – whether that’s gaining a better understanding of how credit works or setting financial goals.” 

As well as working as a Team Leader, Victoria has also just finished writing her thesis for her Masters.

Her thesis is: The relationships between social and financial wellbeing of the New Zealand Tongan Community.

“As a Tongan you have a responsibility to contribute to your community, and in New Zealand that usually means financially – it could be towards special occasions such as birthdays, funeral and wedding. My thesis will be looking at the relationship between financial wellbeing and social wellbeing within these communities”.

Raising awareness

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.”  

Victoria’s current goal is to raise awareness about how credit works and its potential outcomes in her community and through DEBTsolve.

“Not all debt is bad. Sometimes people need it and we see that as Financial Wellbeing Coaches. However it’s easy for debt to spiral out of control, which is why we aim to improve our clients understanding of how credit works and what to look out for, so they can make better decisions in the future.”

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.

“Being a Financial Wellbeing Coach is more than just helping someone pay off a debt. It’s helping them take control of their life again, teaching them life skills that will help them be successful and it’s creating a better future for our communities.”

Tu’a ‘Ofa Atu Victoria.

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