Nasili and Ireena first met in 2021 through the MATES (Mentoring and Tutoring Education Scheme) programme as a mentor and mentee. Now, in 2024, Ireena joined the MATES programme as a mentor, working alongside her former mentor, Nasili.

(Left side: Ireena, Right side: Nasili)

Nasili and Ireena, who come from different parts of the Pacific, work as MATES mentors at Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate, Mangere College, Tamaki College and Aorere College. 

"Our role focuses on helping students build their confidence during their final year of high school and preparing them for the transition to university," says Nasili. Beyond mentoring and tutoring, Nasili and Ireena offer support with exam preparation, university applications, and teaching important life skills ensuring their mentees are well-prepared for a successful journey in high school and beyond.

1. What made you decide to join MATES? 

Nasili: “I joined MATES because of my passion towards education and its transformative power. Growing up, I saw firsthand the difference that guidance and support can make in a student’s life. I wanted to be part of a programme that provides impactful support, especially to Year 13 students at a crucial stage in their academic journey.”

Ireena: “My journey with MATES began as a Year 13 mentee at Southern Cross Campus College. Being paired with Nasili as my mentor sparked my passion to become a mentor myself and to support young people in reaching their full potential.”

For both Nasili and Ireena, MATES offered the perfect opportunity to give back to the community, share their experiences, and help students navigate the challenges of their final year of high school and the transition to university.

2. What are you studying? And how long they have been working with MATES?

Nasili: “Currently, I am in my final year of completing a Conjoint Bachelor's degree in Commerce and Laws. I joined the MATES programme as a Senior Mentor in 2021 and have loved positively impacting the lives of my mentees, helping them grow in confidence and achieve their academic and personal goals.”

Ireena: “I am currently in my second year of university studying towards a Bachelor's degree in Law and Arts, majoring in Psychology. My journey with MATES began this year, 2024. The MATES programme has given me the opportunity to share my knowledge and experience to support my mentees in reaching their full potential.”

3. What’s going well in your role? Any wins so far? 

Nasili: “In my role as a Senior MATES Mentor, several aspects are going well. One of the most significant wins has been seeing my mentees improve their academic performance and gain confidence in their personal abilities. Several of my mentees have received university acceptances and scholarships. Seeing their hard work pay off has been a proud moment for all of us at MATES. The growth in their self-assurance and the development of their life skills have been clear indicators that our efforts are making a positive impact.”

4. How have you found working alongside each other as mentors?

Ireena: “Working alongside Nasili as mentors has been a full-circle moment for the both of us. Nasili’s commitment and support during my transition to university shaped my journey. Though we mentor at different schools, whenever we come together, Nasili continues to be a source of encouragement and wisdom.”

5. Share a special moment during your time in the MATES programme? 

Nasili: “Ireena made my goals as a MATES Mentor a lot easier! She embodied the qualities of a strong leader, particularly as a young Moana Oceania woman in a space where there are often high expectations to meet. Our vā (relationship) strengthened as we discussed her future aspirations to study law and opportunities at university. I feel fortunate to have been a part of Ireena’s journey.”

Ireena: “One special moment that stands out among many would be when Nasili would give me the courage to persist and keep going whenever I felt overwhelmed as a Year 13 student. Her words of encouragement have always been uplifting and invaluable. She has been an incredible mentor and friend. Nasili’s lively and energetic nature made it no surprise she was favoured by many of my peers.”

6. What do you love the most about your job? 

Nasili: “What I love most about my job is the opportunity to make a meaningful impact in the lives of my mentees. Being able to support and guide them through their challenges, and witnessing their growth and achievements, is incredibly fulfilling. I particularly enjoy seeing their confidence blossom and knowing that I have played a part in helping them reach their potential. The vā (relationship) I form with my mentees and the sense of community we build together are also aspects of the job that I cherish deeply.”

Ireena: “What I love most about being a mentor is the sense of fulfilment that comes from making a difference in the lives of my mentees. Seeing their growth and progress has been a rewarding experience."

At MATES, we have many valuable mentors working across 14 schools in 2024. We anticipate another rewarding year of growth, learning, and success for our entire MATES team.