Perseverance sees Brock Trewavas in his dream job

It took three attempts at NCEA level three before Brock Trewavas gained University Entrance. Now, with both a Bachelor of Design Innovation and a Master of Design Technology from Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington and a job at Wētā FX, he says perseverance is vital for prospective university students.

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Brock (Ngāti Maniapoto, Tainui, Ngāti Wairere), who grew up in Motueka, says he has always been inquisitive, wanting to know how things work and how to make them. At high school he studied art, design, and media, and would create short videos with friends doing graphic designs in Photoshop and creating 2D stick figure animations.

“The hunger to create, design, and understand the technology behind films pushed me towards studying a Bachelor of Design Innovation majoring in Media Design, but I had a few setbacks before starting my undergraduate degree,” he says.

Brock failed NCEA level three twice, once because he didn’t get the required credits and the second time because he dropped out halfway through the year.

“I went to correspondence school two years later to prove to myself I could study at university by achieving NCEA level 3 even though I didn’t need University Entrance anymore due to my age. I ended up achieving it, which motivated me to go on and study towards my undergraduate degree.”

Brock believed the programme would build on the skills he learnt at high school. It helped that he had an older brother already studying Architecture at Te Herenga Waka and an aunty who lived in Wellington that he was able to live with.

“The student experience at university in Wellington is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s a lot of hard work studying to get a degree but it’s also incredibly rewarding to see the growth in yourself as well as your peers. It feels extremely fast-paced because there’s so much going on but it’s completely manageable, you’re constantly creating new memories, making new friends, and learning new skills daily. It’s enjoyable and I do miss it sometimes.”

He says anyone considering university study must be prepared to work hard and to persevere.

“When working towards a goal or deadline, things will feel tough at times, but you need to persevere and you’ll eventually reach your goal. It just takes time and patience.”

Brock says studying for his Bachelor’s degree at Te Herenga Waka's School of Design Innovation opened his eyes to the different design specialisations available. The advice and support of his lecturers and tutors helped guide him towards a Master of Design Technology, focusing on animation, and has been invaluable in terms of developing his communication skills, confidence, and ability to work with others.

“It has given me a substantial amount of self-confidence in not only my technical skills but how I communicate and present myself. I still use their advice in my day-to-day work.”

Brock now works as an effects assistant technical director at Wētā FX.

“Effects covers a wide variety of things, including essentially any kind of visualisation of forces acting on the world―which is great because I get to learn about a whole bunch of different phenomena. As an effects artist, I am mostly responsible for helping create anything that moves that isn't a character. Whether it be a physics-based simulation for things like water, fire and destruction, or abstract magical effects that we see in modern films.

“I get to work with talented and like-minded individuals, every day is a new challenge to learn and overcome,” he says.

“The biggest challenge working within visual effects and games is definitely the forever changing and updating technology. You have to be continually learning and trying to understand the latest and greatest.”