Your primary, secondary and tertiary education?
I attended Nadi Airport School until I was 13. I returned to New Zealand to start secondary at Rutherford High School. After much soul searching after high school I attended Auckland Teachers College where I taught in the primary sector for ten years. I then entered into the tertiary sector where I did a bit of teaching and management. I then left teaching altogether to pursue management, but still in the education sector.
Where are you currently based?
I work at Unitec, New Zealand, a polytechnic that is situated in Auckland. I am the Head of Centre, for Pacific Development and Support.
What work do you do and can you explain what your work involves?
The work is wide and varied but the focus is of course, Pacific peoples’. Internally, the aim is to address the retention and success of Pacific students at Unitec based around achievement. Externally, requires commitment from the Centre to support community, in regards to access into tertiary or to support education initiatives to support community needs.
What are some key points you need to highlight in order for someone to do the work that you do?
All you need is a lot of passion, a desire to support the community, a willingness to always learn and further develop and extend yourself. And to always focus on the bigger picture ; that is the people you serve.
What are some challenges you face in your current work?
Working in a government institute can be a challenge when you have to face community and understand their educational aspirations, and then to place these aspirations into a structure which may not complement or understand Pacific ways, this can be one of the biggest challenges.
What are some of the benefits you gain in this career?
When people ask me this question I always seem to answer in the same way, short and sweet.” "There is no greater blessing than to be working for your people and to be paid for doing it!”. This work has given me such an insight to Pacific peoples and to have been able to input or give back is part of how we were brought up. That is the real benefit of the job.
If you have traveled internationally with your work, what place do you enjoy the:
Most and why? I have traveled nationally from top to bottom of NZ, visiting tertiary institutes. Internationally to Hawaii, China and to Europe (and took the family with me). I loved Paris, it was exactly what people say, it’s unbelievably beautiful and hard to capture in words. My kids loved China, it was fast, modern, cheap to eat and shop.
Least and why? Rome was interesting with wonderful history, but by crikey it’s really filthy. If you think Fiji has a problem with rubbish, it’s not so bad in comparison. Give me Nausori any day!
What advice would you give young ones who want to pursue this career?
Not just for a role like mine but any career, I would suggest that one should discipline themselves when it comes to study. To set standards and habits early, as I do believe that having those set in place will enable you to challenge, study or to further your work with greater ease and to reach greater heights.
How did you know about Fijituwawa.com, and if you would like to recommend this site to others, why should you do so?
Like many Fijians the networks for us are fairly wide. I received the website through a Fijian email listing and have continued to log on ever since. It’s great for keeping in touch and seeing who and what is happening in the Fijian community. I would recommend it to every one, including non Fijians just to keep up with the pace. Fijians as you know move fast and this is one way to keep track of us!