Pasifika Education Grant recipients 2015

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natalie faitalaNatalie Faitala
Wesley College, Auckland

Natalie Faitala is of Cook Islands, Tahitian, Samoan, and NZ European descent. Natalie has been teaching in the secondary school sector for the past 17 years. She is currently HOD of English at Wesley College in South Auckland. Previous to this, Natalie taught at Tereora College, the National College of the Cook Islands in Rarotonga. Natalie has been the Executive Member of the PPTA Komiti Pasifika for the past five years, has been a member of the National Pacific Advisory Group to the Ministry of Education, and a Co-convenor for the CTU Komiti Pasifika.

Natalie will use the CORE Pasifika Education Grant to further her Masters research, “Pasifika Pathways — Educational Journeys”. Her research looks at how the New Zealand Qualifications system requires that students obtain a certain level of literacy ability to be eligible for University Entrance, and how, for Pasifika students, the University Entrance qualification is often more difficult to attain than for students of other ethnicities.

A mixed-method research approach was undertaken using the traditional Pasifika notions of fono and talanoa alongside the “Western” concepts of questionnaires and focus groups to gather student voice, and to understand how Pasifika students perceived literacy and subject choice. One hundred and twenty years 12 and 13 students in two South Auckland decile one schools participated in the research for this study.

The next stage of the research, which is intended to be a pilot study for a Ph.D, will look at how the NCEA qualification is offered to students in Niue and the Cook Islands. The data collected there will then be compared with the South Auckland sample to discover if there are similarities in the questions around literacy competence and subject choice with our Pasifika students in New Zealand and those in the Pacific Islands.


pauai afelePauai Faamanatu-Afele
Mount Roskill Grammar School

Pauai Faamanatu-Afele was born and educated in Samoa before moving to New Zealand for university in 1985. She has been a teacher of science and chemistry in secondary schools for the past 18 years, and currently teaches at Mount Roskill Grammar School.

Pauai is currently undertaking a Masters of Education at the University of Auckland. Her research topic is “Success Narratives of High-achieving Pasifika Students in Senior Secondary School Science”. This research seeks to investigate what factors enhance participation and success for Pasifika students in science. It also seeks to know what influences students’ decisions to continue studying the subject once it becomes optional or not, and, therefore, consider it as a future career option. With the Pasifika population in New Zealand growing, and the economic importance of science, Pauai considers the development of Pasifika students' skills in science essential to our future.

The Pasifika Education Grant will assist Pauai with paying for part of her tuition fees and some other expenses associated with her research. The results of this research will be of benefit to teachers, Pasifika students, communities, and the science industry as a whole. Pauai is thankful for this opportunity and looks forward to sharing her findings.


opeloge ah sam Opeloge Ah Sam
Kristin School

Opeloge Ah Sam is a teacher at Kristen School. The Pasifika Education Grant that Opeloge has been awarded will go towards completing his Ph.D. in Music Composition at the New Zealand School of Music, in Wellington, on the topic, “The Agony of Asking”. The research explores how music composition and performance contributes to the identities of Samoan and Pasifika people in New Zealand.

Opeloge recognises the question of identity as one that is faced by many Pasifika people growing up in an ever-changing world. His research is about bringing together the individual and the community, the traditional and the new, and the culture and context within a framework to share with young and old Samoans and Pasifika people through music.

Once completing his research, Opeloge looks forward to contributing to workshops and talks that explore ideas of identity through the Arts, in particular, music performance and composition.


david faavaeDavid Fa’avae
Otahuhu College (previous)

Having previously worked at Otahuhu College, David Fa’avae is now undertaking a Ph.D. The title of his study is “Tatala 'a e koloa 'a e Tonga: Unfolding the educational experiences of three generations of Tongan males”.

The Pasifika grant will be put towards the collection and organisation of his research data. This will include return airfares to Tonga, a koha (gift or food) to each of the families involved, and the services of a transcriber. David considers being awarded the grant a great blessing, and looks forward to using his findings to benefit Pasifika learners. 

'Oku ou tuku heni ha fakamālō lahi kihe 'Otua Mafimafi koe'uhi ko 'ene 'ofa. 'Oku ou tuku ha fakamālō kihe CORE Education koe'uhi koe tāpuaki kuo nau foaki mai. Koe tokoni fakapa'anga koeni 'e fakataumu'a ia kihe 'eku feinga ako kihe PhD. Koe konga lahi 'o e tokoni fakapa'anga 'e totongi'aki 'a e folau ki Tonga moe foki mai koe'uhi ke fakakakato 'a e ngāhi talanoa moe ngāhi famili fekau'aki moe fekumi 'oku fai. Tu'a 'ofa