Ten Pacific Island high achievers awarded NZ scholarship
Ten Pacific Island students in New Zealand have just received prestigious scholarships in recognition of their academic achievements.
Ten Pacific Island students in New Zealand have just received prestigious scholarships recognising their academic achievements.
The Kupe Scholarship, awarded by the Education Ministry, aims to encourage more Pacific students into teaching.
Indira Stewart has more.
Tongan recipient Matani Fakatotua Schaaf says he's thankful for the award which will help him to complete his Masters of Teaching and Learning. The award also recognises his recent work in completing his PhD thesis on motivation and burnout among Pacific professional rugby players.
MATANI FAKATOTUA SCHAAF: "For me, it was an area that no one had done any research on. You know, success is every individual's success but for Pacific, it's the whole family and the whole village and the whole country's. Yeah, the expectations are huge."
Recent government figures show a continuing rise in the number of Pacific people now studying at tertiary level. Samoan - Maori recipient Salamasina Leilua graduated with a science degree majoring in zoology and says studying is tough on students financially. Her dream is to mentor other Pacific students and she says the award is a big help.
SALAMASINA LEILUA: "After studying I was in quite a bit of debt, a poor student and I was really interested in doing teaching but that meant another full year of study, going back to student life. So, the scholarship has just been so amazing and [there are] so many more opportunities now that I've got this money."
Lisa Rodgers from the Ministry of Education (Deptuty Secretary of Early Learning and Student Achievement) says there has been an increase in the growing number of Pacific Island teachers in the classroom. She says the ministry is primarily focussed on providing good quality teaching but cultural diversity is important.
LISA RODGERS: "It's really important that students are seeing people from their own communities and people from their own backgrounds that can interpret the curriculum and deliver the curriculum in a way that makes it relevant and meaningful."
Recent government figures show a twenty percent rise in Pasifika students leaving school with a secondary school qualification over the last eight years. Samoan Moana Toleafoa was a student at James Cook High School's teen parent unit and is now completing her Graduate Diploma in Secondary teaching. She says her son motivated her to break the mould.
MOANA TOLEAFOA: "I was 17 and I've heard and I've read a lot of things about teen parents and how they don't turn out well for their kids. But I didn't want to be that type of mother. So I just kept looking at him and just wanted the best for him."
While completing a degree in Sports and Recreation, she managed to balance school and solo-parenting.
MOANA TOLEAFOA: "I moved from house to house and then ended up getting a house with Housing New Zealand. So I just ended up staying by myself with my son and just raised him. We made things happen. Prayer was strong and God was always there. I believe that."
Lisa Rodgers says Kupe scholars will help inspire other Pacific Island students.
LISA RODGERS: "The awards are about students seeing Pasifika people having really successful careers and in teaching. Relevance and identification is important."
Moana Toleafoa hopes her story will push other young Pacific students to aim high.
MOANA TOLEAFOA: "Especially us Polynesians we have that stereotyped mind where we think ' I'm just going to go half way because I'm brown'. Don't think about the colour of your skin or what your culture is. Just go for it."
The 30 awards offered to Maori and Pasifika high achievers each year aims to support the growing number of Maori and Pasifika students in New Zealand class rooms.
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