A background video gave us a good description of John’s aiga (Samoan family). John is a very accomplished man. Suffice it to say here that he ran the NZ Institute of Sport; he was the 2016 Wellingtonian Person of the Year in Education; and has been awarded the NZ Order of Merit.
John’s interest in many sports, particularly rugby league, shone through his comments. He spoke of several teams and organisations he has been an integral part of as well as a player.
Speaking about his business life, John explained that his business interests, especially the Fiso Investment Group and Pacific Health Plus, are conduits for raising funding to achieve significant goals in health and education.
Themes that threaded through this presentation were ambition and aspiration. John is adamant that families must have choices for their children and aspire to getting the best for their aiga. Although his parents were manual workers when they came to New Zealand, they knew the benefits that accrue from a good education and ensured that all their children achieved well.
His involvement in Whitby Collegiate School began when John was approached by a group of parents near the end of the life of Marsden Collegiate Campus in Whitby. A group purchased the school and although 50% of students in general in Porirua are moving to Wellington, it has gone from strength to strength over its first three years. Last year NZCEA results were: Level 1: 100% pass rate, Level 2: 97% pass rate and Level 3: 100%. They also achieved 100% success in UE exams. It is the fastest growing school in the Wellington region. Whitby Collegiate also has an interesting population mix: 20% Maori, 7% Pasifika and the balance from other races. (The source of these statistics is from the Ministry of Education. Education Counts website.) John insists that the parents' role is “to let children fly!”
Parents enrolling their children do not drive by and drop off the students – they are encouraged to come in, stay and be part of the school community. But always to have ambition for their children and to see a need for good education for them. Scholarships are made available to help young people follow their educational dreams.
The intention is to eventually create a housing development as part of an oasis including a café, a hairdresser, a health practice (Pasifika, but open to all racial groups) as well as sporting facilities for the whole community. That theme came through again – the community will thrive if people have ambition and aspirations. He does not like the way Porirua is socially divided – North, East and West. He would much rather see a melting pot of diverse peoples living side by side; and has begun discussions with the Porirua City Council about this way forward for our future. Integrated housing and infrastructure are a big part of this development with Whitby people showing goodwill.
A while ago John was called upon to be part of a rescue mission for the Canons Creek Pacific Health practice.
John explained he sometimes finds it difficult to juggle the business world-view of economics with a caring and compassionate community. In this writer’s opinion, John Fiso (ONZM) does a pretty spectacular job in achieving this balance.