Teresia Teaiwa Memorial Scholarship

In memory of Associate Professor Teresia Teaiwa, two scholarships are available to support students of Pacific Studies.

The Teresia Teaiwa Memorial Scholarships are awarded annually to Pasifika students in Pacific Studies. One scholarship is available for undergraduate students and one for postgraduate students.

As the Director of Va'aomanū Pasifika, Teresia strongly believed that Pasifika scholarships make a real difference—scholarships not only make the University more accessible but also increase the number of students continuing on to postgraduate studies. Her aim was to reinforce the value of higher education in creating a better future for all Pacific peoples.

About the scholarship fund

The generous outpouring of support towards Teresia’s dream of providing targeted scholarships to Pasifika students studying Pacific Studies at Victoria University of Wellington has been incredibly moving. The fundraising goal for the Teresia Teaiwa Memorial Scholarship Fund has now been exceeded—with more than $280,000 raised.

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.

Scholarships shaping Pasifika futures

The 2020 recipients of the Teresia Teaiwa Memorial Scholarships are postgraduate student Kaitlin Abbott and BA/LLB student Esther Patu.

For both young women, these scholarships are giving them the opportunity to focus on their studies without the added stress of how they will manage financially.

Kaitlin Abbott says: "Pacific Studies helped me to see and accept that you can have a Pasifika perspective at university, and it has encouraged me to use that perspective in other subjects. I didn’t think I could do that. I want to show others from the Pasifika community that they can have a university experience that works for them too".

Esther Patu says: "Studying PASI and being Pasifika in a system that doesn’t necessarily cater to us means empowerment for me as a Pasifika woman, and it motivates me to strive to achieve my goals and dreams."

"Pacific Studies for me is not just an academic thing," says Esther, "It goes much deeper and gives me a connection to my ancestors, the people who put me here".