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Personal profile

Biography

“Somebody’s got to be crazy about that kid. That’s number one. First, last, and always.” Urie Bronfenbrenner, Psychologist

George has held a number of executive and senior management roles in the education, employment and social sectors in Auckland, New Zealand. He was appointed to Chief Advisor at the Ministry of Education, Chief Development Officer with the Solomon Group. He is the current General Manager at VisionWest Community Trust's Education, Training & Employment Centre and leads a portfolio of youth mentoring programmes in education, vocational training and employment.

George is also involved various community Pasifika youth development programmes in Auckland and he has significant involvement in Pasifika community initiatives. His network of associations span local community initiatives to governance leadership positions on various boards.

In his 'spare time', apart from finishing his PhD, George is the CE and Programmes Director, for a youth development mentoring programme (Pro-Pare Athlete Management Trust) that caters for predominantly young Pasifika males who have left school and are in danger of dropping out of the schooling system prematurely, or have left with little or no formal qualifications. He has an unrelenting passion for youth and is energised when he sees them flourish as a result of his influence and gentle persuasion.

 

Research interests

George Gavet began his PhD in 2015. His research topic is,

"Improving the relocation experience of youth Pacific rugby league players moving from New Zealand to an NRL club in Australia".

The available data suggest that each year around 800 New Zealand teenagers relocate to Australia and apply to the New Zealand Rugby League for an international transfer so they can play in Australia. Around 60 relocate to National Rugby League (NRL) clubs. Some of the others have no ambition to play professional league, but many are relocating to chase the NRL dream. 

There is a widespread acceptance that relocation is a traumatic experience for many Pacific teenagers. They transition rapidly from schoolboy living at home to young man who has to fend for himself without the support of faith, family, and friends while competing for a contract in a country that has significant differences to the one, he has left. This is all on top of the transition from talented teenager to professional athlete with its known mortality (from suicide) and morbidity (from depression and other mental health issues) in the NRL. 

This thesis interviewed, using a life-history methodology, six NRL first grade players and two athletes who have not made a debut to explore the factors which influenced their relocation experience. Semi-structured interviews were also conducted with seven NRL Wellbeing and Education Managers and one pair of house parents to determine what factors these stakeholders thought influenced the relocation experience. The research had approval from the ANU Asia Pacific Delegated Ethics Review Committee. 

The research found that the relocation experience of these young men mirrored that of their parents and grandparents who relocated from the Pacific Islands to New Zealand in the second half of the twentieth century. There was also considerable overlap with the factors identified in the international literature on sports migration of talented junior athletes. The factors influencing the relocation experience were grouped into ten categories. Five of these groups are included in the NRL’s Wellbeing Model (the Flourishing Wheel). They are career, culture, family and relationships, psychological, and spiritual. Five are not and are not currently considered in the development of a wellbeing plan. These are accommodation, culture shock, NRL club, player agents, and preparation for relocation while in NZ.    

An unexpected finding was that, despite the NRL’s Career Wise programme, these athletes were reduced to labouring jobs to fund their initial years in Australia. Young men who would have pursued a university education or an apprenticeship had they stayed in New Zealand cannot do this in the current NRL system.  

Athletes who relocate from New Zealand crash into the NRL development system. It is a hard landing. A lot could be done to prepare athletes for relocation in the year before they leave New Zealand. 

George's research interests have centred around Pacific youth. In Aotearoa New Zealand, Maori and Pacific young people fall behind their European conterparts at a disproportionate rate in terms of education.  Pacific people are often pigeon-holed into categories where they appear to do well, for example the sports arena, or performing arts.  Failing education outcomes and social statistics help to support notions of underachievement, when the reality is more to do with the inequity of opportunity.

The good news is that Pasifika or Pacific peoples, are beginning to reshape their own narratives as there is now an emerging wave of talented, qualified Pacific leaders who have become experts at walking in both worlds. Where Pacific and Western worlds collide, the emergence is a wave in Pacific champions in key fields like education, employment, housing and the general social character is being rewritten. 

Pasifika are now taking up influential roles in local and national government, holding key portfolios, and are being included in critical dialogue where policy decisions where in the past were being made them, are now being made by them. Generations of young Pasifika, are now sitting alongside of non-Pasifika leaders to bring about transformational change to Pasifika communities in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Available student projects

 

Combatting Youth Homelessness 

Have you ever wanted to help fight youth homelessness in Aotearoa NZ?

We are reaching out to families with a passion for rangatahi people to be a part of a new and transformational project to help end youth homelessness.
"My Whare" is an innovative programme that utilises the mobile and flexible one-bedroom units to house young people (rangatahi) on residential properties of supportive adults (see images below of our prototypes). The rangatahi is connected to a mentor employed by VisionWest to help set goals and a progress plan, while the host household helps rangatahi  learn to live more independently with social connections, shared meals and a stable environment. 

We are looking for hosts who would be willing to 'house' a rangatahi in one of the portable homes (below).
We would love to have some conversations with interested parties who would like to know more.
Some FAQ are listed below.
  1. How old are the rangatahi (youth) referred to live in the Whares? Between the age of 18 and 25?
  2. How long is the commitment of having a Whare on your property? An initial commitment of 12 month?
  3. How does the relationship between the host and rangatahi work? We see the role of the Host to treat the rangatahi as a family would treat a boarder. They are living semi independently but joining the family for some meals and using some shared utilities such as the laundry?
  4. What kind of financial contribution exists for the household accepting a Whare on their property? The Host will receive a contribution to water, internet, power and food as well as a rental to the household of a minimum of $100 per week.
  5. What is the Host role? You are not a care giver, and you are not the youth mentor. You are there to help the young person learn the general rhythm of living semi independently. Tasks may involve teaching the rangatahi to cook, connecting them to social networks and including them in family activities.
  6. What if it all goes wrong? The programme is based on a co-designed plan by the Host mentor, rangatahi and Youth Mentor. These agreed terms are the basis of the tenancy on your property. If the terms are breached you have the right to withdraw from the programme.
  7. What issues will the youth present with? The young people will come from hardship and the issues they face will be unique to each young person. We will work with you to match a young person and their needs to your living circumstance.
  8. How does the youth mentor play a role? The youth mentor will be doing the intensive one on one work with the rangatahi to achieve their goals and grow in areas such as education, employment and life-skills. The youth mentor will shoulder the burden of support for the rangatahi in terms of their development.
The Hosts will shoulder the responsibility of growing the rangatahi's social connections to things like youth group, church, friends etc.
For further information contact george.gavet@visionwest.org.nz or +64 27 808 6867


Past student projects

In 2015 a programme that was co-designed to serve high schools in West Auckland was birthed. Last year (2019) saw the Tula'i Pasifika Youth Leadership Development programme impacting our 500th Pasifika student, their families and communities. Coronavirus interrupted 2020's programme, however the schools are wanting this year's potential cohort to initiate the new post-COVID era for Pasifika students-with-potential.

Tula’i Pasifika Youth Leadership programme helping Pacific students embrace their identity

Tula’i Coordinator Michelle Buchan with graduate Geoffrey Dufty

We’re now halfway through the school year and a new wave of tertiary hopefuls are tossing up their options for next year.

The transition between high school and university is always a tough bridge to cross for students. Add to this the pressures and expectations of parents or caregivers wanting their children to excel.

This is a shared experience within the Pacific community. It’s our parents’ constant reminder of the sacrifices made so that our generations could benefit. It’s the pressure we put on ourselves to make our parents proud, to make their struggles worthwhile.

Stories of his grandparents’ migration have pushed Niuean/Samoan Geoffrey Dufty to learn more about where he comes from.

“Cultural identity is so important to a young person’s journey through life,” he says. “That means getting in touch with my roots and ancestors that have struggled for me, to migrate from the islands to New Zealand.”

But it’s not always as easy as it sounds. Almost two-thirds of Pacific people are born in New Zealand, and this number is growing by the hundreds every year. The loss of culture and language is deeply tragic and has massive implications for future generations – ask any one of our Pacific language tutors, whose constant mission is to make sure people are speaking our languages in mostly English-speaking households.

Tula’i Graduates Faith Sasa’e Faumui & Geoffrey Dufty

Faith Sasa’e Faumui had never really embraced her Samoan roots before this year. The Avondale College student says high school can be an overwhelming experience for any student, but especially for Pasifika.

“Identity crisis is huge for Pacific students. We need more of that kind of support at school, for Pacific Islanders born in New Zealand.”

For Geoffrey, it’s about overcoming the stereotypes projected on to him by his peers.

“Sometimes we’re seen as inferior to the other students, and it takes a toll on you. But you just got to learn how to persevere through it.”

Although concerning, this generational, cultural divide leaves room for our local heroes to start bridging the gap. For the last eight years, the Tula’i Pasifika Youth Leadership programme has been inspiring young Pacific to become better leaders and decision makers for their communities.

Tula’i promotes the idea that young people should have a strong sense of their Pacific identity, knowing where they come from and the legacy they are a part of.

Last week, 70 students from eight West Auckland secondary schools graduated from the programme. Both Geoffrey and Faith were part of the cohort and made it clear how much the programme had changed their high school experience.

“I’ve found myself through this forum,” says Faith. “I don’t have any other Polynesian friends, and I usually don’t get involved with things like this, so I was really scared about joining. I didn’t know if I was going to fit in, but I clicked with everyone straight away, and it made me feel like a Pacific Islander.”

During the school year, students take part in eight youth development modules, two community service events during the school holidays and a youth camp before the main event – graduation.

Tula’i coordinator Michelle Buchan says the programme provides an open space for students to be themselves and talk openly about their experiences.

“There’s lots of issues our youth have to deal with nowadays, like bullying, or not feeling like they can necessarily talk to their parents at times. You can see that through this programme they form a real brother/sisterhood, and they have each other’s backs. They’ve just really united.”

The initiative also gives the chance for past graduates to come back and serve as leaders to the next group of students.

Tula’i CORE leader Elijah Noue-Tauelima

Elijah Noue-Tauelima graduated from the programme in 2017, and since then has been involved as a core leader. Through this platform he wants to teach students how to confidently be themselves.

“As Pacific Islanders we tend to shy away from a lot of things. We play the humble card too many times, but sometimes we’ve got to put that humble card away and just simply put yourself out there,” he says.

“We want this to be an open environment where they can express their ideas about Pacific issues, Pacific people, and just Pacific stuff in general when they can’t get that in school.   

Many students come through Tula’i realising the uniqueness of their Pacific heritage, and embracing their cultural differences. It’s a significant step that the core leadership believe every young Pacific person should reach.

Tula’i Pasifika Leadership Programme is funded by three local boards, Whau, Waitakere Ranges and Henderson Massey.  The programme was designed through the West Auckland Pasifika Forum and this year was led by Youth Horizons Kia Puawai.

https://tpplus.co.nz/community/tulai-pasifika-youth-leadership-programme-helping-pacific-students-embrace-their-identity/

 

Qualifications

MA (Hons)

Expertise Areas

  • Continuing and Community Education
  • Secondary Education
  • Vocational Education and Training Curriculum and Pedagogy
  • Educational Administration, Management and Leadership
  • Pacific Peoples Education
  • Studies in Human Society not elsewhere classified

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