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Source: Eastern Institute of Technology – Tairāwhiti

3 mins ago

Five years ago, Ti’iti’iatalaga Tuliaupupu, better known as Ti’iti’i, his parents and younger brother Alfred moved from Letogo, Samoa, to Hawke’s Bay.

Ti’iti’i is a new Pasifika student leader and a passionate advocate for education.

Although Ti’iti’i had completed high school and had been accepted to university in Samoa, he was required to attend one and a half years of high school in New Zealand to earn the missing credits needed for tertiary studies in his new home country.

He said that the time at Hastings Boys’ High School boosted his confidence and language skills. “The only way to learn a language is to speak it, but I certainly had to break down some barriers,” he says. In 2017, he finished high school and took a gap year to figure out the next steps.

A passion for music and all things creative run in the Tuliaupupu family, and Ti’iti’i is no exception. “We share this big dream of reviving my grandfather’s music and bringing it to New Zealand. I thought that creative studies would help support this cause.” Ti’iti’i completed a NZ Certificate in Communications Media followed by the NZ Diploma in Screen Production at EIT’s IDEAschool. He acknowledged that 2020 was a tough year. “Although we got a lot of support during lockdown, there were moments when I wanted to drop out, but I knew I had to push through.”

But there were also stories of joy and success, for example his internship with Engage Video Creation that saw him play a part in various projects including filming the Horse of the Year event.

“I’m simply taking every opportunity,” says the 22-year-old. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that Ti’iti’i made the most of EIT’s free offerings and started a level 3 Certificate in Electrical Engineering. At first glance, this might look like a random change of direction, but Ti’iti’i knows where he is heading. “There are good job opportunities for electricians out there, but I’m actually thinking of combining my qualifications and starting a business as an electrician in the filming industry.”

Since last year, Ti’iti’i is also a member of the Pasifika Students Leadership group and has set clear expectations of his role. “My goal is to encourage Pasifika people to study and inform them about what support EIT has to offer. My message is, don’t sit and wait but look for help.”

Ti’iti’i’s father, a former teacher and now correction officer, has always preached the values of education. It has become second nature to Ti’iti’i, “You can learn so many different things while you are young. You can combine your skills, get as many qualifications under your belt as possible or come back at a later stage to add new ones. You don’t know what you are good at if you don’t try.”