Tonga a real leader
Tonga Paongo is a young man that leads by doing.
The Mana College head boy is one of 30 students from across the country to be part of the Next Generation Leaders programme.
It is designed to help secondary school leaders flourish through activities and challenges, giving them practical skills through links with sponsor Fuji Xerox’ business partners.
When asked to put his name forward last year, and provide a 500-word essay in support of his application, Tonga was nervous.
‘‘I wasn’t sure what it was all about but I’m glad I did [apply]. I said in my essay that I wanted to experience new things, get out of my comfort zone a bit and become confident as a leader.
‘‘ I’m not big on public speaking, so I thought this could help with that. I was shocked and honoured that people think I have the potential.’’
Tonga is the only Porirua representative on the programme, and one of just eight students from this region.
They have had an induction day in Auckland, where he meet Billy Graham and Lisa Tamati, and the second phase will involve spending a day in a business environment.
‘‘ It’s a real chance for me, meeting these new people and seeing what’s happening in the real world.’’
Along with his head boy duties, Tonga is captain of the best college volleyball team in this region, plays rugby, basketball, founded a Tongan cultural group at the school and is a role model at his church.
He gave a speech in Maori to the entire school at the beginning of this year, delivered with aplomb, deputy principal Marion Tuite says. ‘‘It was an incredible effort. ‘‘We put Tonga forward for the leaders programme but his essay made the difference. He’s a leader for Mana in so many areas – he’s humble and quietlyspoken and his actions speak louder than words,’’ said Ms Tuite.
‘‘This programme will expand his horizons beyond Porirua and allow him to have amazing experiences.’’
Tonga intends to study architecture at Victoria University next year.
Young leader: Tonga Paongo is a role model in his school and the community, and he says being chosen for a future leaders’ course can only help with his confidence.