20 Aug 2021

Report details steps to raise equity in tertiary study for Pasifika

9:12 am on 20 August 2021

Tertiary providers have been issued a 'how-to guide' for breaking down barriers to success for Pacific students, with seven pointers educators will be expected to put into action.

asian young student man teenager entrepreneur wear earphones working with computer studying learning online at home. e-learning webinar meeting. social distance in covid pandemic

Photo: 123RF

Te Pūkenga, the so-called 'mega-polytech' that is now the umbrella organisation for New Zealand's polytechnics, Institutes of Technology and Transitional Industry Training Organisations, has released the report addressing barriers and enablers to the success of Pacific students.

Called Te Rito: Insight for Pacific Learners , the report said it's imperative the education system delivers fair and equitable outcomes for Pacific learners, their aiga and communities.

It details seven key opportunities, including equitable access, more Pacific representation (especially in staff), and using Pacific practices and knowledge in learning programmes.

It found Pacific students often have strong family obligations that impact on their studies, and learning opportunities were often viewed as a way to better support their families.

"It is in the country's best interest to ensure the Pacific young population are prepared for the future ahead," said Dr Falaniko Tominiko, who is director of Pacific Success at Unitec and contributed to the study.

"Populations struggling here in Aotearoa - their voices need to be heard and made a priority coming into this new institution."

Pacific communities are among New Zealand's youngest and fastest growing populations.

Te Pūkenga's Deputy Chief Executive Learner Journey and Experience, Tania Winslade, said an action plan was now being developed to be used across the organisation.

"We are excited for the future; removing barriers, improving accessibility and building connectivity for all, especially our traditionally under-served learners,"

The data was collected from about 315 participants from Whangārei to Invercargill, including more than 3000 narratives and stories gathered from focus groups, and 4000 statements from open sessions.

The report will sit alongside reports to be released next week on enabling Māori and disabled learners to succeed.


1. Pacific learners aspire to use their education for their fanau/ aiga/ family and communities to prosper and to access opportunities and greater choices. They have the added commitment of looking after and serving their families as well as balancing their commitments to study.

2. Pacific identity is not homogenous, and each Pacific group has their own learning experiences and practices. They also have their own challenges, and therefore it is important these differences are understood in order to support them.

3. Having equitable access to opportunities to support success is critical for Pacific learners. Peer-to-peer mentoring can be an excellent way to ensure Pacific learners feel like they belong. Seeing and having access to successful Pacific role models as trainers is also important.

4. There is a need for Pacific learners to see themselves while at Te Pūkenga. Having more Pacific staff at Te Pūkenga makes Pacific learners feel like they belong

5. Having Pacific knowledge embedded in learning programmes is reinforcing of Pacific learner identities in their learning.

6. A common challenge was lack of support during enrolment and during studies. It is important that support is easily accessed by Pacific learners throughout their enrolment and study journey at Te Pūkenga.

7. Having Pacific staff is key to Pacific learner success. Te Pūkenga needs to invest in the development of their Pacific staff to support Pacific learner success.

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