25-year-old Astrid Mataele wants to follow in her late father’s footsteps into a career in politics.
Her father, Joe Tuilatai Mataele, was a Member of Tonga’s Parliament for 20 years.
"I grew up seeing what he did for people. He changed people's lives,” Astrid says.
In November 2008 Astrid’s brother and her four cousins were killed in a car accident. Less than a year later, in August 2009, her father passed away.
The following January Astrid came to New Zealand to begin her studies. It was a terrible time for her, she says, but the tragedy of losing her loved ones gave her the determination to just keep going.
Last month she graduated from Victoria University of Wellington with a double degree in Political Science and International Relations.
Astrid is a volunteer leader in the young adult program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Wellington. She helps organize social activities and devotionals, and provides leadership to hundreds of other young Latter-day Saints throughout Wellington.
Next Tuesday she will join with other young Latter-day Saints as well as a group of Catholic young people as they assemble personal care kits for men who stay at the Wellington Night Shelter.
The following day the young adults will meet with Prime Minister John Key, several Members of Parliament and other officials at Parliament.
The group will be learning about how the nation is governed as well as discussing the place of faith in New Zealand society, and the role of religious freedom in allowing all people the capacity to live according to their consciences.