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Meet the family: a chat with Hadleigh, Zeal West’s new Manager

After being involved with Zeal for the last 10 years, Hadleigh Pouesi has stepped up to the Manager role in West Auckland. We had a yarn to him about youth work, Tekken, and his vision for the future of Henderson.

How did you first get involved with Zeal?

Hadleigh: I have been around Zeal since it first opened up almost 10 years ago – from being a young person connecting to Zeal from a distance, to being a youth worker working alongside Zeal to deliver initiatives for the wider West community.

In 2015, I was brought on board to run the Street Youth Work project that is still around today. I then moved into the Youth Development Manager, role working with Lema and Levi, and then got shifted to the Community Liaison role… Basically, I have been able to tick off all the different areas in the organization, so I am keen to see where this new role will take me.

What does your typical day at Zeal look like?

Hadleigh: Hmmm… Every day is different, but a normal day would be some thing like this: walk down to work from home. Get into emails while having a good yarn with Kerryn, our office manager, and the Live for Tomorrow team.

Basically do all my admin and meetings till the youth team show up, then from 3:30 we are all go with after schools.
I tend to walk home around 5:30pm to have a breather, and then head back down to Zeal from 7 to about 11:30 working with dancers, muso’s and other creatives using the space to make dope stuff. Pretty cool job if you ask me!

What advice would you give to someone wanting to get in to youth work?

: That is a tough one… I have been in this field of work for over 12 years now. I have seen a lot of people come and go, and go, and go and go.
The best youth workers have a firm understanding of why they do what they do (because it is hard to get inspiration from the pay cheque, haha), so understand your WHY, and keep a hold of that.

If you see youth work as playing cards and Xbox all day long, volunteer or shadow someone working in youth development to understand the in’s and outs before signing up – cause there are plenty of things beneath the surface that require mastery before you can chuck on Tekken.

What do you fill your time with outside of Zeal?

Hadleigh: Music, dance, movies, friends and food.

What are some great memories you have from your time at Zeal?

Hadleigh: One of my favorite Zeal memories would be working my first Homegrown. I had just joined the team, and it was a great way to meet the whole Zeal whānau and be involved with a dope project.

What do you think the biggest challenges will be with your new role?

Hadleigh: Filling the shoes of JP is gonna be a tough one. I learnt so much off him, and his imprint out West is huge. He has set a culture and a standard of leadership that will be hard to follow.

What are your plans for Zeal West going forward?

Hadleigh: A few big plans ahead! I want to support my team to keep delivering dope ideas and projects. I want to get more involved in schools, churches and community groups. I want to have Zeal West PUMPING non-stop, while walking alongside our West Auckland young people as they journey through the highs and the lows.

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