An Auckland University of Technology project in partnership with The Southern Initiative (Auckland City Council) and Oceania Career Academy. 

Auckland, New Zealand, is the largest Polynesian city in the world, with the majority of ‘Pasifika’ people residing in South Auckland. This cultural group also represents the largest growing youth population in New Zealand, but faces unemployment levels double that of the national average, and low prospects of securing a professional career. Local community leader John Kotoisuva resigned from a government task-force on youth, concerned that the top-down model would be ineffectual in addressing youth unemployment and underachievement. He believed it was not that Pacific youth were failing, but rather, that the system was failing Pacific youth. To address this, he founded Oceania Career Academy (OCA), which brought groups of South Auckland youth out of school for one day per week to receive social mentoring and trades-based technical training.

Although successful, the organisation wanted to further develop the creative potential of its clients to provide opportunities for more ambitious career pathways. AUT university students were invited to work with OCA to this end, and used a co-design process to engage with directors, facilitators and students at the academy. Initial plans for the development of a creative studio hub within the physical confines of the academy were rejected when a chance comment highlighted an opportunity to shift the focus to curriculum content. The result was a model for a design-led curriculum that fostered creativity and problem solving skills to complement and enhance the technical proficiencies already being achieved at the academy. This was successfully prototyped at OCA, and integrated into existing teaching frameworks.


Academic Supervisors: Lisa McEwan (AUT University), Gary Marshall (Resilio Studios).

AUT student designers: Nick McDonald, McKay Berry, Robert Lewis, Suthika Haisoke, Elise Hislop.