Who's in my room?

Tamatha Paul (Ngāti Awa and Waikato Tainui), currently the president of the Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association, stayed at Weir House in 2016. On a sunny winter’s day, she went back to meet the current resident in her former room—first-year Theatre and Film student Thomas Smith. The pair quickly bonded over student politics, hall food, and cable car rides.

Tamatha Paul (Ngāti Awa and Waikato Tainui) and Thomas Smith


What’s it like to be in your old room?

When I was here it looked different, but I think I had a lot more stuff everywhere. It’s cool, it definitely brings back memories.

Why did you choose Weir House?

Weir House was my first choice because one of my teachers had stayed here and recommended it. It seems a little bit different now, because the students who stay here are often really engaged. I don’t know what it is about Weir House, but it seems like there’s almost a civic component—people like to engage with the wider university and the city.

Are you still in touch with your friends from the hall?

I’m still friends with most of the people I met here. I’ve actually probably met more people from Weir House since leaving…but I made some really good lifelong friends here.

What’s your strongest memory of staying here?

On my first day, I was surprised by how big everything was. It was totally different from Tokoroa, where I’m from. One memory that stands out is making friends with Jo, the night manager—I still talk to her now, we’re really good friends. She still works here. I’m also still in touch with other staff members at the hall.

What type of student were you?

I just did my study, volunteered, and got involved in issues that
I cared about. I think I used my first year really productively. I made the most of it in terms of taking new opportunities within the hall and the University. It was a good year.

What advice do you have for Thomas?

I would say the important thing about being at university is taking advantage of all the opportunities, like joining clubs and societies, because that’s what’s going to make your degree different from everyone else’s. You’ve got to add some fun in there too, otherwise you can get bored.


Where did you grow up?

I’m from Dunedin—I had lived there my whole life and then just decided to move to Wellington. I felt like changing cities and changing islands.

What’s been a highlight so far of living at Weir House?

I like how there’re always people around, even really late at night—I don’t have to go out of my way to interact with people. I’m also really enjoying living in Wellington—it’s got a lot of creativity and I find it really easy.

What are your plans once you graduate?

I’m studying Theatre and Film, and I’m doing what I really enjoy and what my passion is. I’d love to find any work in theatre, film, or performing. That’s where I’m heading, but I guess I’ll see what comes up. I just moved here a couple of months ago. I did improv for a while, but I’d love to join more clubs and do things outside  the University.

What’s it like to meet someone who used to stay in your room?

It’s really cool—kind of inspirational. I’m not sure if I’m inspired to run for VUWSA—but you never know!

What’s the food like at the hall?

Thomas: I think it’s all good. People complain sometimes, but it’s not as bad as they say.

Tamatha: It was all good when I was here. I’m better at cooking now that I’m an adult, but when I left here, in my second and third year, I was shocking with meals—like I would just make noodles all the time, I couldn’t be bothered. I really missed having a cooked meal with different nutrients, because I was just ‘carbs, carbs, carbs’. So you might miss it.

Thomas: [laughs] Yeah, I probably will.

Tamatha: The lunches and the breakfasts are the other thing that
I miss the most. Like, going to uni, boosting back for lunch, making myself a toasted sandwich, and then going back. I also miss the cable car. Do you use it much?

Thomas: I don’t use it heaps, but when I need to, it’s right there.

Tamatha: Yeah, good old cable car. And that ‘ding ding’ noise—I miss that.

Thomas: Yeah, I hear it about 100 times a day.