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EIT encourages Pacific Island achievement

June 23, 2014
Tekai Sola and Reece Tuala-Fata

Tekai Sola and Reece Tuala-Fata

More Pasifika students are enrolling in EIT degree programmes, reflecting the success of an initiative aimed at encouraging Pac ific  Islanders into tertiary education.

This year, eight students with Pacific Island  roots launched into Bachelor of Teaching (Primary) studies while six students – most of them first-year – are enrolled on the Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education) programme.

EIT launched its Pacific Island initiative two years ago. EIT deputy chief executive Claire Hague says the scheme is designed to encourage and support Pacific Island students pursuing tertiary qualifications.

“It’s proving a huge success,” she points out. “By involving whänau early on, we are better able to outline and promote the wide range of educational opportunities available through EIT. And on campus Special Projects Advisor – Pacific Maryanne Marsters provides the back-up students may need.

“There is mentoring available and Maryanne can direct students to the appropriate services offered at EIT.”

Two students who applaud the scheme are Reece Tuala-Fata and Tekai Sola, both from Hastings and classmates in the Bachelor of Teaching (Primary) programme.

New Zealand-born Reece feels strongly about his Samoan roots. After gaining experience in teaching at primary school, he wants to specialise in helping Pacific Island students achieve their educational goals.

The 28-year-old played basketball for the Hawks and touring primary schools as junior development coach for Basketball Hawke’s Bay he saw there were few male teachers to act as role models. The former Hastings Boys’ High School pupil found studying health science at university wasn’t for him.

“EIT is more welcoming. The classes are not huge and you get to do group work in the classroom,” says the father of three.

Born in Napier, Tekai grew up in Hastings and attended Hastings Girls’ High School.

“My parents gave me a strong sense of who I am,” the 19-year-old says. “I’m incredibly proud to be Tokelauan.”

Located northeast of New Zealand, Tokelau comprises three islands. It has a resident population of around 1400 people (2011 census) but some thousand more live in New
Zealand. Tekai finds the structure of the EIT degree provides her with “the best of both worlds” – on campus study and practice-based learning with her placement at St Joseph’s School in Hastings. And she is impressed by the mentoring available through EIT’s Pacific Island support scheme.

“The statistics show Pacific Islanders are struggling so I think it’s amazing to get the assistance you might need. EIT is so comfortable, there’s no need to feel threatened. It feels like family, like a second home.”