The amazing Vu Le (“voo lay”), writer of the blog and former executive director of Rainier Valley Corps (RVC), returned to Aotearoa in late September 2022 for a series of events around the motu.

Vu held speaking events in Ōtepoti (Dunedin), Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington) and Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland).

Vu Le’s Parliamentary Event. Image by Arthur Hon

An introduction to Vu Le

Dunedin Community Builders, Hui E! Community Aotearoa and Volunteering New Zealand brought Vu Le (“voo lay”) the writer behind and the former executive director of Rainier Valley Corps (RVC), a nonprofit in Seattle that promotes social justice, to Aotearoa, New Zealand. 

Using his quick wit and humour to shed light on important topics that are relevant to all of us, Vu has engaged thousands of people around the world who seek out answers on how to create an inclusive and welcoming space within the community and voluntary world.

Vu is also a founding board member of Community-Centric Fundraising, a movement that aims to ground fundraising practices in racial equity. Vu’s overall message was this: we must make funding more equitable for the communities most affected by injustice.

Driving funding change in Aotearoa

Across the globe in New Zealand, Dunedin Community Builders was working on just that. Their ‘Be the Change: Funding and Equity” resource’ was born. Centering on the stories and experiences of the Dunedin community, this resource tackles the need to improve our funding models to be more responsive to Te Tiriti O Waitangi and make funding much easier to access.

Hui E! Community Aotearoa strongly echoed this sentiment, and because of this they wanted to partner with Dunedin Community Builders to bring this taonga to decision-makers and those who influence where funding is distributed. The decision to bring him to Aotearoa makes sense, says Hui E! Kaiwhakahaere Matua, Rochelle Stewart-Allen. “It is an important time to understand and make visible the incredible contribution community organisations have made to our nation since the pandemic arrived,” says Rochelle.

Vu Le’s tour of Aotearoa

Vu’s trip began in Dunedin for the official launch of ‘Be the Change’. It continued with a Parliamentary event in Wellington | Te Whanganui-a-Tara and more events in Auckland | Tāmaki Makaurau. Vu’s visit to Aotearoa is timely, we have seen the effects of the pandemic on small community groups, many of which struggle to be sustainable. These challenges have increased since the arrival of the pandemic. It’s definitely time to help the helpers.

Feedback from our events

Over two days of meaningful engagement with the wonderful, courageous and bold Vu Le! First in Mangere with our wonderful IAmMangere whanau yesterday, then at Te Māhurehure Marae this afternoon. Awesome work by Rochelle and #HuiE for bringing Vu Le to Aotearoa!

I shared with Vu my learnings from earlier forums that I was invited to by US based #EmpoweringPICommunities and also #thesharedliberationnetwork earlier in the year. Minority communities in the US face many challenges of being sidelined, ostracised and ignored by #USPhilanthropy and their own complex governmental structures when it comes to resource allocation. There are lessons to be learnt by #Aotearoa, despite our own challenges at the various levels.

Vu Le is taking away some of our material from the PFN and so many learnings through his travels throughout the country over the past few days returning home. Malo to my team at the #pasifikafundersnetwork for juggling priorities and commitments to tautoko and awhi this significant mahi (work).

Also, to our #philanthropynz whanau thank you for continuing to open space to us in the collective efforts towards championing diversity, difference and positive change.

Huge S/O to HUI E Aotearoa for a job well done whanau!

Hainoame Fulivai | Co-Chair of Pacific Peoples Advisory, Auckland Council

By far, this was one of the best events I’ve attended that shed light on a sector that often goes unnoticed – well, not anymore! Thank you @nonprofitaf for highlighting why we need transformation in the non-profit sector. Not only were you honest and so on-point in delivering your message, but you’re hilarious AF!

Ngā mihi to the organizers and volunteers for putting on a wonderful event ???

Soulivone Phonevilay, Porirua Multicultural Council

Honour and a privilege to spend the morning with Te Hau Kāinga o Te Mahurehure Marae, our community and Vu Le. Thank you, Hui E! and Foundation North for enabling this opportunity for our community to hear Vu in person. Also, fortunate to have lunch with some phenomenal community leaders and Vu too. Ngā mihi nui Rochelle Stewart-Allen.

Natalia Sexton | General Manager of Weave – Working Together

Thank you Rochelle Stewart-Allen and team for organising the hui for fundraisers this week, it was a privilege to attend. Vu Le spoke our minds so brilliantly. Thank you for taking up the responsibility to advocate for change in the fundraising industry, my head is rather bruised from the brick walls I knock it against on a semi-regular basis! Ngā mihi maioha. #gratitude

Diane Eaglesome | Project Employ

Please pass on my thanks to all involved in pulling this celebration together for us all yesterday. I had no idea what to expect but it certainly wasn’t to be feted and entertained like this! As Vu so eloquently put it we are used to being ‘invisible’ and working in the background. I have never before left any kind of work-related event feeling so uplifted and good about myself, our organisation and the sector as a whole.

Viv Muir, Refugees as Survivors New Zealand

Thank you for helping bring this event and Vu to Aotearoa … Last night was a great event. Thank you for you and your teams work, the late hours, the challenges, and the problem solving.

Julia Capon, Do Good Jobs

There was an amazing vibe on the floor. Great opportunity for officials to understand the C&V sector.

Government official

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