The Scholarship was established in memory of Victoria University of Wellington Associate Professor Teresia Teaiwa, who was the inaugural programme director of Pacific Studies and, at the time of her death in 2017, the director of Va’aomanū Pasifika—home to both the Pacific and Samoan Studies programmes. The scholarship will support Pasifika students undertaking Pacific Studies at the University.
The Scholarship honours the significant contribution Associate Professor Teaiwa made to the lives of students. It was her wish that two scholarships be established—one for an undergraduate student and one for a postgraduate student.
The first undergraduate scholarship, worth $6000 per year, was awarded earlier this year to Alilia Tupou, who is studying towards her Bachelor of Arts majoring in Pacific Studies.
Now the fundraising target has been reached, scholarships can be awarded each year in perpetuity and will make a significant difference to generations of Pacific Studies students, says Dr April Henderson, programme director of Va'aomanū Pasifika.
“We have had so much support from family, friends, alumni, colleagues, and the community, building upon the substantial initial gift from Teresia herself. These scholarships will carry on her great legacy and I'm moved that, together, we were able to realise her dream.”
The University helped honour Teresia’s final wish by matching her family’s contribution of $100,000, in addition to the generous donations received from individuals and organisations.
Professor Jennifer Windsor, Pro Vice-Chancellor of the Faculties of Humanities and Social Sciences and Education, says, “When Teresia came to New Zealand and the University in 2000, it was to teach the University’s, and New Zealand’s, first undergraduate major in Pacific Studies. With her strong sense of purpose and commitment to Pacific success, Teresia’s work was transformational; we are privileged to be able to support her legacy of teaching and research in Pacific Studies.”
Katerina Teaiwa, Teresia’s sister, says, “The Teaiwa, Mallon and Martin families in New Zealand, Fiji, Australia, the United States and Kiribati are so grateful to Teresia’s dear students, colleagues and friends for their tireless fundraising efforts so these scholarships could be established in her memory. We are pleased that so many Pacific Studies students will continue to be inspired by her powerful work. Kam bati n rabwa, vinaka vaka levu sara and fa’afetai tele lava to all”.