Industry Growth: Seti Afoa shares his journey from Labourer to Communications Advisor

Seti started out as a Labourer in our Northcote neighbourhood and is now a key advisor in the Communications team. He’s a great example of the career leaps you can make at Piritahi.

You moved back to New Zealand recently, tell us how your journey began:

I lived and worked in Samoa as the director of a company called Samoa Events. The business relied on travellers from around the world, so of course when Covid hit, everything came to a stop. But in a way, it’s been a good break for me, because before this I was literally everywhere. In the 12 months before Covid, I had 60 international flights, including two to London.

Wow, 60 flights in one year - that sounds full on! How did you start at Piritahi?

I decided to move back to New Zealand and applied for a Labourer role with Piritahi while I was in holed-up in isolation. Just before my two week isolation period was over I found out that I had got the job, and I started the following week. This was in August 2020, everything was new to me, and I found the role quite enlightening.

Left: NZUMSA – hosting the NZ Ultra Marathon Swim Awards, Wellington, June 2011
Middle: Seti (Samoa Cycling Federation President) being welcomed into the UCI family at Congress 2019 (UK) by UCI President David Lappartiet & Oceania President Tracy Gaudry
Right: Swim Retreat – outlining the features of the final leg of the Around Rotoroa Island Swim, February 2022

 

What were your highlights as a Labourer?
I loved it, I really loved it. As a young Polynesian growing up in Samoa that’s what we did - we worked the land, we grew things, we dug into the earth. I felt like I was going back to everything to do with the land - as though I was “earthing” myself. It was very therapeutic for me. I learned how construction has a language of its own, and that it’s a goldmine of opportunities. If you learn a trade in construction, you have a job anywhere in the world.

 

How did your role change?

I suffered a knee injury and that prevented me from doing any more physical work. But then I thought: “well, I can do other things - I can write”. So, I applied for a role as a Communications Advisor role as I felt my previous experience as an event manager built my skills for that kind of role. After my time as a labourer, I thought it was a good fit for me to write stories about construction, the work, and the people in the industry.

 

What do you enjoy about being in Communications?

I love to focus and refine my writing skills. Writing is a craft, and I'm really enjoying working with words. It's a challenge that I have a lot of enthusiasm for, I have the stories in my head and the whole process of putting them out into the world is really rewarding.

 

How has your experience as a labourer helped your current role in Communications?

Construction is a language in itself – it would have taken me quite a long time to learn how to communicate the complexity of the work if I didn’t have first-hand experience. And thanks to my role as Labourer, it meant that when I started in Communications, I already knew some people in the Alliance, which was immensely helpful.

 

Having worked on-site, what do you think would be useful for those in the office to know?
I think they should get on site. It’s hard to get away from our desks but I think everybody should go and spend time on a site. Even now, with my role, I don’t have enough time on the ground. I wish I could be there more, just to touch base with the team and see what’s happening.
Left: Seti on-site as a Labourer for the Northcote Neighbourhood, 2021. 
Right: Seti at head office, in his new role as a Communications Advisor, 2022.

 

What are you looking forward to for 2022?
Improving my skills, telling our great stories and hopefully helping the Alliance to get external recognition for the important work it does. On top of my day-to-day communications work, I am part of the Awards team. I think this is an important part of the Piritahi Alliance - to recognise and share the successes that we’ve had. Some of the people we’ve submitted (for awards) had no idea that they could be worthy applicants, or that their work is good enough to go industry-wide, so it’s really a wonderful thing to help to develop those submissions on their behalf and articulate their hard work. It really boosts them, to realise that they’re being seen and supported. To be recognised for the work that you do… that really is a highlight.

Industry Growth: Seti Afoa shares his journey from Labourer to Communications Advisor

Seti started out as a Labourer in our Northcote neighbourhood and is now a key advisor in the Communications team. He’s a great example of the career leaps you can make at Piritahi.

You moved back to New Zealand recently, tell us how your journey began:

I lived and worked in Samoa as the director of a company called Samoa Events. The business relied on travellers from around the world, so of course when Covid hit, everything came to a stop. But in a way, it’s been a good break for me, because before this I was literally everywhere. In the 12 months before Covid, I had 60 international flights, including two to London.

Wow, 60 flights in one year - that sounds full on! How did you start at Piritahi?

I decided to move back to New Zealand and applied for a Labourer role with Piritahi while I was in holed-up in isolation. Just before my two week isolation period was over I found out that I had got the job, and I started the following week. This was in August 2020, everything was new to me, and I found the role quite enlightening.

Left: NZUMSA – hosting the NZ Ultra Marathon Swim Awards, Wellington, June 2011
Middle: Seti (Samoa Cycling Federation President) being welcomed into the UCI family at Congress 2019 (UK) by UCI President David Lappartiet & Oceania President Tracy Gaudry
Right: Swim Retreat – outlining the features of the final leg of the Around Rotoroa Island Swim, February 2022

 

What were your highlights as a Labourer?
I loved it, I really loved it. As a young Polynesian growing up in Samoa that’s what we did - we worked the land, we grew things, we dug into the earth. I felt like I was going back to everything to do with the land - as though I was “earthing” myself. It was very therapeutic for me. I learned how construction has a language of its own, and that it’s a goldmine of opportunities. If you learn a trade in construction, you have a job anywhere in the world.

 

How did your role change?

I suffered a knee injury and that prevented me from doing any more physical work. But then I thought: “well, I can do other things - I can write”. So, I applied for a role as a Communications Advisor role as I felt my previous experience as an event manager built my skills for that kind of role. After my time as a labourer, I thought it was a good fit for me to write stories about construction, the work, and the people in the industry.

 

What do you enjoy about being in Communications?

I love to focus and refine my writing skills. Writing is a craft, and I'm really enjoying working with words. It's a challenge that I have a lot of enthusiasm for, I have the stories in my head and the whole process of putting them out into the world is really rewarding.

 

How has your experience as a labourer helped your current role in Communications?

Construction is a language in itself – it would have taken me quite a long time to learn how to communicate the complexity of the work if I didn’t have first-hand experience. And thanks to my role as Labourer, it meant that when I started in Communications, I already knew some people in the Alliance, which was immensely helpful.

 

Having worked on-site, what do you think would be useful for those in the office to know?
I think they should get on site. It’s hard to get away from our desks but I think everybody should go and spend time on a site. Even now, with my role, I don’t have enough time on the ground. I wish I could be there more, just to touch base with the team and see what’s happening.
Left: Seti on-site as a Labourer for the Northcote Neighbourhood, 2021. 
Right: Seti at head office, in his new role as a Communications Advisor, 2022.

 

What are you looking forward to for 2022?
Improving my skills, telling our great stories and hopefully helping the Alliance to get external recognition for the important work it does. On top of my day-to-day communications work, I am part of the Awards team. I think this is an important part of the Piritahi Alliance - to recognise and share the successes that we’ve had. Some of the people we’ve submitted (for awards) had no idea that they could be worthy applicants, or that their work is good enough to go industry-wide, so it’s really a wonderful thing to help to develop those submissions on their behalf and articulate their hard work. It really boosts them, to realise that they’re being seen and supported. To be recognised for the work that you do… that really is a highlight.

Industry Growth: Seti Afoa shares his journey from Labourer to Communications Advisor

Seti started out as a Labourer in our Northcote neighbourhood and is now a key advisor in the Communications team. He’s a great example of the career leaps you can make at Piritahi.

You moved back to New Zealand recently, tell us how your journey began:

I lived and worked in Samoa as the director of a company called Samoa Events. The business relied on travellers from around the world, so of course when Covid hit, everything came to a stop. But in a way, it’s been a good break for me, because before this I was literally everywhere. In the 12 months before Covid, I had 60 international flights, including two to London.

Wow, 60 flights in one year - that sounds full on! How did you start at Piritahi?

I decided to move back to New Zealand and applied for a Labourer role with Piritahi while I was in holed-up in isolation. Just before my two week isolation period was over I found out that I had got the job, and I started the following week. This was in August 2020, everything was new to me, and I found the role quite enlightening.

Left: NZUMSA – hosting the NZ Ultra Marathon Swim Awards, Wellington, June 2011
Middle: Seti (Samoa Cycling Federation President) being welcomed into the UCI family at Congress 2019 (UK) by UCI President David Lappartiet & Oceania President Tracy Gaudry
Right: Swim Retreat – outlining the features of the final leg of the Around Rotoroa Island Swim, February 2022

 

What were your highlights as a Labourer?
I loved it, I really loved it. As a young Polynesian growing up in Samoa that’s what we did - we worked the land, we grew things, we dug into the earth. I felt like I was going back to everything to do with the land - as though I was “earthing” myself. It was very therapeutic for me. I learned how construction has a language of its own, and that it’s a goldmine of opportunities. If you learn a trade in construction, you have a job anywhere in the world.

 

How did your role change?

I suffered a knee injury and that prevented me from doing any more physical work. But then I thought: “well, I can do other things - I can write”. So, I applied for a role as a Communications Advisor role as I felt my previous experience as an event manager built my skills for that kind of role. After my time as a labourer, I thought it was a good fit for me to write stories about construction, the work, and the people in the industry.

 

What do you enjoy about being in Communications?

I love to focus and refine my writing skills. Writing is a craft, and I'm really enjoying working with words. It's a challenge that I have a lot of enthusiasm for, I have the stories in my head and the whole process of putting them out into the world is really rewarding.

 

How has your experience as a labourer helped your current role in Communications?

Construction is a language in itself – it would have taken me quite a long time to learn how to communicate the complexity of the work if I didn’t have first-hand experience. And thanks to my role as Labourer, it meant that when I started in Communications, I already knew some people in the Alliance, which was immensely helpful.

 

Having worked on-site, what do you think would be useful for those in the office to know?
I think they should get on site. It’s hard to get away from our desks but I think everybody should go and spend time on a site. Even now, with my role, I don’t have enough time on the ground. I wish I could be there more, just to touch base with the team and see what’s happening.
Left: Seti on-site as a Labourer for the Northcote Neighbourhood, 2021. 
Right: Seti at head office, in his new role as a Communications Advisor, 2022.

 

What are you looking forward to for 2022?
Improving my skills, telling our great stories and hopefully helping the Alliance to get external recognition for the important work it does. On top of my day-to-day communications work, I am part of the Awards team. I think this is an important part of the Piritahi Alliance - to recognise and share the successes that we’ve had. Some of the people we’ve submitted (for awards) had no idea that they could be worthy applicants, or that their work is good enough to go industry-wide, so it’s really a wonderful thing to help to develop those submissions on their behalf and articulate their hard work. It really boosts them, to realise that they’re being seen and supported. To be recognised for the work that you do… that really is a highlight.