Learning for love and the challenge

Bachelor of Arts in Education and Anthropology graduate Tiketi Auega first came to Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington in 2000. More than 20 years later, after an extensive career in education, he is graduating with his Bachelor’s degree with plans to go on to further study.

Tiketi Auega
Tiketi Auega

Tiketi’s first connection with the University was as a primary school teacher at the Wellington Teachers Training College before it became part of the University. After working as a teacher for several years, Tiketi was selected to complete a Graduate Diploma in TESOL at the University.

“Completing this diploma ignited an interest in further University study,” Tiketi says. “It also gave me the chance to be the first in my family to go to University.

“My mother was part of the first wave of Pacific migrants to move to New Zealand in the 1960s. She had excelled at education in Samoa, but she had to sacrifice her ambitions to raise eight children and work night shifts. By taking on further study, I hope that I have honoured her experiences and the sacrifices she made for us.”

Tiketi intended to go on and complete a degree, but an enticing job opportunity at a local polytechnic meant Tiketi didn’t complete his degree in the early 2000s. Instead, he went on to work in tertiary education for 14 years.

“I worked in polytechs until the nationwide review of the sector in 2019,” Tiketi says. “Although my job was safe in this review, the changes gave me the chance to rethink where I wanted to be and inspired me to return and complete my degree.

“Returning to complete my own education really reignited my passion for education as a whole,” Tiketi says. “After 20 plus years in primary and tertiary education across the Porirua and Wellington regions, I was particularly interested in how education has shaped or impacted opportunities for Pasifika and Māori communities.”

Tiketi says some Pasifika students experience a culture shock at university, but for him it was more of a technology shock.

“Just to cope with my first assignments, I only had less than two weeks to learn how to navigate Moodle, use the self-directed library system, wondered why the faculty office wouldn't take my hard-copy assignment and telling me to TURN IT IN, and wondering what on earth Zoom was,” Tiketi says. “The irony was, I had worked in Student Support and understood the value of Orientation weeks which I obviously ignored when returning to university.”

Despite the challenges, Tiketi recommends returning to study as a mature student—although he highly recommends attending New Students Orientation. He also has one piece of advice for all students wanting to study education:

“Absorb as much as you can, and venture into as many different areas as possible—Education is a very diverse discipline with a lot to offer.”

Tiketi plans to go on to further study in Education, with the goal of completing a PhD.

“For me, learning is for the love of it and the challenge of finding out what is next,” he says. “Returning to study as a mature student has provided me with a wider lens to appreciate a range of perspectives, and I look forward to doing more of this.

“However, the most important thing for me is being mindful of those who paved the way for me to get here—my mother, my siblings and extended family, as well as all those I’ve worked with throughout my career—and how I can give voice to them as I continue my education journey forward.”