Netball star, mother-of-two and full-time degree student Denise Aiolupotea knew she was bumping up an already heavy workload when she formed a support group for Pacific Island and Māori mothers in Hawke’s Bay.
Denise is finding her Bachelor of Recreation and Sport is opening up lots of doors.
“Initially I thought I would teach PE but I’ve found there’s a whole world I can take my qualification into.”
Denise was selected for Samoa’s netball squad when she was just 19. “I was one of a handful selected from an Australian base,” says the 26-year-old, who moved to Brisbane to join her Samoan father for most of her high school education.
Pondering a project to complete her degree, Denise was drawn to a programme being developed by Sport Hawke’s Bay that required student support.
The eight-week programme for Pacific Island and Mäori mothers provides interactive nutritional advice on making meals healthier. As part of the package, active Pacific Island classes with exercise
tasters are also being offered in the community.
Having helped plan and launch the programme, Denise finds working with a group of mothers a rewarding undertaking, even if she is pressed for time.
As Captain of the Flaxmere-based MAC team for the last three years, the goal attack also works part-time in a developmental role for Hawke’s Bay Netball.
“I am really busy and finding it hard, but I tell myself to stick it out and there will be rewards. I’m the baby in the family and will be the first to graduate with a degree.
It’s going to be a really big achievement for me.”