Leima Tu'atonga

Leima's education story is a poignant one. After failing the majority of her primary education, she was advised that she "wouldn’t make it".

Leima Tu'atonga
Leima Tu'atonga

Full Name: Leima Fifita Tu’atonga

Degree: Bachelor of Arts (1st class Honours) in Education; Bachelor of Arts, Education and Pacific Studies

Place of Birth: Alofi, Niue, to parents Tupou and ‘Uatesoni Tu’atonga

Ethnicity: Tongan

Place in Family: Leima is the third eldest of six children

Leima's education story is a poignant one. After failing the majority of School Certificate, Sixth Form Certificate and Bursary, she was advised that she shouldn’t bother enrolling in tertiary study as she "wouldn’t make it."

Leima's belief growing up was that only the palangi people went to University. She didn't even know what you did at University. This was until she met a Victoria University of Wellington undergraduate, and later attended the young woman's graduation ceremony.

Seeing the acknowledgement of the graduates, and the families' pride in their children spurred Leima on to take up the challenge of University study herself, completing her degree with two majors in the minimum time, and also trying some other interest papers such as MUSC 251 Music and Dance of Oceania 1.

Leima was invited to do honours in her final undergraduate year, and accepted the challenge. Seeing other Pasifika students from Wellington pursue post-graduate studies really inspired Leima, and she now believes that post-graduate study is not just for those with scholarships - everyone can and should go onto post-graduate study!

Leima's passion is to encourage and inform Pasifika youth that University study is a possibility, and she treasured the opportunity to make this a reality for 7 years in her previous role as Enrolments Advisor at Victoria University of Wellington.