Giving rise to young Pacific voices in the Commonwealth
With more than 60 per cent of the Commonwealth’s population aged 30 or under, Tonga’s Elizabeth Kite is working to ensure the young people of the Pacific region have their say.
Recently elected as the Pacific Regional Representative on the Commonwealth Youth Council, Elizabeth is using her experiences from living in vastly differing countries such as England, Australia and Tonga, to inspire her work as a leader.
I immediately understood that the opportunities made available to me in Australia and England, like a quality education, was my opportunity to then fight to have that for all young Tongans.
“It’s all too often that young Pacific people miss out on opportunities due to a lack of funds available to them from bodies like the government or national youth councils, so I wanted to show our young people that even without funding we are still very capable of achieving our goals,” Elizabeth said.
Tonga has always been home for Elizabeth, and since moving to Australia, she and her family would return to the small developing island over holiday breaks to spend time with family and friends.
“The four golden pillars which Tongan society live by; respect, humility, loyalty and patriotism, all stand on the foundation of love and kindness,” she explained.
I strongly believe in these values and have always tried my best to apply this in everything that I do.
Last year, Elizabeth was awarded the Queen’s Young Leaders award in London for her work in creating more education opportunities for young people and those living with disabilities in Tonga.
She taught the only available English braille class in Tonga at the Mango Tree Centre, the first of many places Elizabeth has volunteered her time.
My students inspired me then and continue to do so more than any celebrity, politician or internet sensation ever could.
“By taking the initiative to help others, what I was doing was essentially leading, and helping others is what has led me to where I am today,” she said.
Elizabeth and her fellow members of the Commonwealth Youth Council have officially taken office after a two-week training program and will hold their positions until 2020.
The council firstly aims to address the unstable structures of national youth councils across the Commonwealth, to better the opportunities for young people.
Alongside this, Elizabeth will continue the work with her NGO Tonga Youth Leaders, to inspire and empower other young people to enact positive change in their local communities, both regionally and nationally.