Ayla Hoeta

Ayla Hoeta

Youth Innovator in Community and Social Innovation, The Southern Initiative, Auckland Council
Bachelor of Communication Studies (Honours)
Bachelor of Arts in Māori Development

Ko Tainui te Iwi

For AUT alumna Ayla Hoeta, supporting rangatahi and community development in South Auckland is not a job but a purpose.

“The Southern Initiative is a team in Auckland Council that has been set up to mobilise transformational change in South Auckland over the next 30 years. We work with local communities and other agencies to drive change that will boost employment and business opportunities, improve educational achievement, increase access to affordable and healthy homes, and support social and physical wellbeing,” says Ayla who is a born and bred South Aucklander.

“I’m passionate about my work – it’s about supporting rangatahi to have a voice and rise up to community challenges. We’re doing this in a creative way that also showcases the talent of people in South Auckland.

“‘UPsouth’, the South Auckland community platform, is an example of this. People sign up, connect with other locals and organisations, and share their ideas. As well as providing their ideas, they develop their creative and entrepreneurial skills, contribute to local challenges, and are paid for this. Every idea is paid by the sponsor organisation which is working in that particular challenge area. My role is to support organisations and the community through this new and innovative initiative. If you do the same thing, you get the same result, so we’re doing things differently!”

Degree lays strong foundation
She constantly draws on what she learned in her Māori development degree, Ayla says.

“My AUT degree provided me with the kete of skills needed to be a young Māori leader, a change maker, and to pursue my goals of making a positive impact to whānau and Māori. Tikanga Māori is present in everything I do; it is who I am.”

Her relationship building and ability to work alongside community groups and representing Auckland Council are what she draws on most.

“This is especially important in my work. Building trust with whānau through kanohi ki te kanohi is how our people build trust. It’s not about sitting behind a desk, but being present. There are so many challenges our whānau face every day. Utilising technology is one way of engaging with them and using co-design is another great way. Applying empathy, testing the findings and supporting whānau to take charge and come up with their own solutions has been a valuable way of working.”

A passion for digital media
Her role now enables her to pursue her passion for digital media, says Ayla.

“My interests are in multimedia and Māori development, and in addition to my Bachelor of Arts I decided to complete a Bachelor of Communication Studies (Honours) to further my media and research skills.

“My honours dissertation focused on the impact social media has on Māori youth identity. This understanding of social media is crucial for my work now.”

Employer comment
“As a young Māori woman born and raised in South Auckland, Ayla is in tune with the people and the place. She is passionate and eager to keep learning and make a positive difference. Her strong connection to her culture has been enhanced through the Māori development degree, as has her confidence in tikanga and te reo. Always ready to step forward and lead a waiata or welcome guests, she is helping to strengthen the sense of whānau in the team. A talented communicator, Ayla’s affinity with social media and changing trends is invaluable in building a deeper connection with South Auckland. With her positive attitude she is a young talent destined to have a very exciting and impactful future.”


Gael Surgenor, Director, Community and Social Innovation; The Southern Initiative, Auckland

Last updated: 14-Jul-2017 2.39pm

The information on this page was correct at time of publication. For a comprehensive overview of AUT qualifications, please refer to the Academic Calendar.