Pasifika at Vic

Our Legacy

Just as we look to and retell the stories of our tumbuna (ancestors) to inspire and direct us in our Pacific communities, we also look to the past students and staff of Victoria University for inspiration. They are our gafa (genealogy) here at Victoria.

With their unique cultural understanding and Pasifika perspectives, our Pasifika alumni make a valuable contribution to their fields of expertise and communities. This along with the great teaching and core values of Victoria, make them highly sought after within New Zealand, Oceania, and the world.

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Pasifika Alumni Profiles


Grace Sotutu

Grace’s advice for niu students is to “reflect on what it is you want to achieve in this year, then look at ‘what are the steps I need to take’ and ‘who can keep me accountable’. Be intentional about what you are doing.”

Read Grace's story

Sarah Andreassend

Sarah Andreassend

Sarah graduated from Victoria with an undergraduate degree in May 2015 and received a Pasifika Award for Academic Excellence. She attributes a natural aptitude and, more importantly, hard work to her success.

Read Sarah's story


Felicia Manase

When I was a student at Victoria I was a part of the Samoan Students’ Association (VUSSA). I felt a sense of belonging among other Samoan students. Performing Samoan song and dance with VUSSA gave me a confidence boost.

Read Felicia's story


Jay Va'ai

My advice for potential postgraduate students wanting to further their studies in Architecture and Building Science is to be clear about the aim of your thesis early on so you have plenty of time to focus on writing and most importantly, learn to network.

Read Jay's story

Nicole Reddy

Nicole Reddy

I realised I did not want to be an average teacher so I set myself a goal of getting the highest grades possible. My advice for first year students is to not think of yourself as an average student or think that getting average grades is acceptable. Everyone has the opportunity and ability to aim higher.

Read Nicole's story

Masina Taulapapa

Masina Taulapapa

I would also recommend studying in Wellington; there is so much to do here and it’s great how central everything is. My advice to niu students is to not be scared of doing something different. Being a Pacific Islander can give you an advantage in many different areas, so don’t be afraid to do something just because you may be the only Pacific Islander there. It will pay off in the end!

Read Masina's story

Anna Joskin

Dr Anna Joskin
Papua New Guinea

Anna was a lecturer at the University of Papua New Guinea when she decided to further her studies to gain a PhD in Education at Victoria University. Anna and her son enjoy Wellington and all it has to offer. Anna plans to return to Papua New Guinea to share the knowledge she has gained at Victoria once she is finished.

Read Anna's story

Junior Ulu

Junior Ulu

Junior Ulu graduated with a Master's degree in Development Studies with Distinction. He is now doing his PhD in Development Studies. He was appointed as the International Programme Manager for Volunteer Services Abroad - the first Pacific Islander in this role. Junior gives huge credit to his mother for his educational success.

Read Junior's story


Raphael Hilbron

A Victoria law and arts graduate, Raphael has been a journalist and communications professional for over 20 years, including a stint as Press Secretary to former Prime Minister Jenny Shipley. He is now a Partner at SenateSHJ in Wellington, where he provides strategic communications advice to public and private sector clients.

Read Raphael's story


Rita Iosefo

Rita comes from a big family, and left school very early. However, her love of the Tokelauan language and her desire to see it maintained, as well as her love for working with Pasifika children, has allowed her to complete a Bachelor degree in Early Childhood Education. Rita is currently considering Master's.

Read Rita's story


Eamon Lui-Fakaotimanava

Eamon's biggest influence in his life and the driving force behind his education has always been his family, especially his parents, who are of Niuean and European heritage. Eamon believes that “it is not enough for our Pasifika students to just aim for a pass. We should be aiming much higher – to pass well and to strive for excellence.

Read Eamon's story

Tristram Lupo-Samoa

Tristram Lupo-Samoa

Tristram is in his final year of a Bachelor of Engineering degree majoring in Electronics and Computer Systems. He treats his study the same way that he approaches sports—by training hard and being organised he gets results.

Read Tristram's story

Dianne Sika-Paotonu

Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu

Diane is a PhD Candidate who is undertaking cancer research under the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research. Her research is centred around developing a cancer vaccine treatment which will shortly be tested on patients.

Read Dianne's story


Leima Tu'atonga

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".

Read Leima's story


Priscilla Va'a-Agius

Priscilla's major influences for continuing on to higher education were her parents, and especially her mother, Lasela. While studying, Priscilla also enjoyed being part of the Pacific Island Law Students' Society (PILSS) at Victoria.

Read Priscilla's story


(The late) Dr Dona Ruru

"I thoroughly enjoyed my years of study at Vic. I had the opportunity to grow academically, spiritually, socially and culturally through the diverse student composition, which was enriching."

Read Dona's story


Dr Pala Molisa

"Victoria has world-class teachers and researchers who are passionate about education, about sharing with their students their interests, and helping them to find those fields that they're also passionate about learning", says Pala.

Read Pala's story