South Auckland head girl's Instagram post sparks conversation over lockdown inequalities

A young woman’s Instagram post that went viral with its message about inequality between young people during lockdown, was inspired by the realities witnessed when school reopened, the student behind the post says. 

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Aigagalefili Fepulea’i-Tapua’i’s post on the realities for Pasifika youth under lockdown went viral last week. Source: Tagata Pasifika

Aigagalefili Fepulea’i-Tapua’i head girl from South Auckland’s Aorere College was struck by the contrast of lockdown life seen on social media to that of her school peers on returning to school under Level 3.

Seeing that lockdown for many meant enduring violence at home and working essential jobs to get by and not TikTok and baking sparked the Instagram post.

“What we were seeing in the media wasn’t representing the reality of our lives,” she told Tagata Pasifika.

“What motivated me the most was that our youth deserved to be seen.”

In her Instagram post, Aigagalefili speaks about her classmates having to leave their high school education behind and apply for work full time to get by.

“Remembered every joke bout high school dropouts from the mouth of higher decile school kids that didn’t work a day of lockdown [sic],” she writes.

“It's ironic. how ppl say, ‘South Auckland broke the lockdown rules the most’… it’s ironic, how we didn’t break the rules, our mobility rates are so high cuz while u work from home on zoom, we have the most essential workers. packing ur shopping, driving the buses, cleaning ur classrooms. it’s ironic. how Pasifika have one of the lowest infection rates but were put at the most risk [sic].”

The post that went up last week has been seen and liked by thousands.

Aigagalefili says there’s a lot of work that needs to be done for Pasifika youth and she’s glad her post has started a conversation, but says it shouldn’t have been her that had to shine a light on these inequalities.

“It’s a bit sad that it took a 17-year-old on an Instagram post for it to be brought across,” she said.

Watch her full interview on Tagata Pasifika here.