We first met Selwyn through PYLAT (Pacific Youth Leadership and Transformation) and have the opportunity to sit down with him and discuss why he loves Christchurch and what has shaped him to be the person he is today.
I was at St Bedes and leading the polyfest. I found out about Pacific Youth Parliament and I signed up. I was chosen to be the leader of the opposition. There were debates and discussions and at the end of the event I was in tears. I'd never been in a space where there were just pacific people, especially in Christchurch. Not only that but it was a platform for my voice. Pacific youth parliament showed me that my voice was valuable and valuable in the government system. It was something that I went on on a whim, but it became such an opportunity and made me realise that youth participation, especially pacific participation is undermined and sometimes even tokenistic.
I'd love to see pacific voice front and center.
I’d love to see Pacific people in the city center. Getting our pacific youth into the cannon of Christchurch. Even at UC, all the pacific clubs aren’t right and centre. The only way you’ll find pacific people is down the road at the fale. I also work at Rollicking Gelato which is an amazing workplace and working in the city centre I don’t see many pasifika people.
What do I love about Christchurch?
For me actually how small it is in the scheme of what cities are normally like. Here in Christchurch there's a real community-based geography, you have beaches, mountains vineyards. I grew up and lived in North Canterbury and this was actually a massive part of my identity crises when I was young. I would go to Tongan events in Hornby, and everyone would be speaking in Tongan then I’d go back out to the country and my melatonin was different to everyone else and I was like where do I fit?
Pacific Youth Parliament made me feel so special. I realised that pacific people and all people are beautiful and being different it what empowers people. But I also realised that Youth Participation is undermined, especially sometimes tokenistic.
When thinking about the future and what he hopes for Christchurch, Selwyn replies,
I want to see events like Polyfest back in the city centre, instead of in the red zone. Year by year the venues have degraded. Putting Polyfest in the RedZone feels like we’re almost being put to the side.
I want to see more Pasifika art and culture in the city centre and represented in Christchurch. I want pasifika artists to have space. Space to create and space to be represented creatively.
Creativity is such an important thing and comes in all shapes and forms and is not just your stereotype. For example, rugby players are creative, and my advice is Don’t limit yourself. Photography has taught me so much. How to run events and what's required to get the best and question how we can do events in a pacific way not just in a western way. Cultural Competency and how we approach these events is such an important thing and it makes you really ask what does pacific mean?
What is also problematic is the lack of attention on arts and drama in all boys schools. I want to see everyone all on the same level.
I’d love to see pasifik people in the city centre. I’d love to see more pasifika art.