Pathways of learning, leadership and success

Our programmes

To achieve the objectives of the Pacific Strategic Plan, our team administers a growing number of initiatives. Together these initiatives are designed to build, illuminate and smooth pathways of success. At least nine of these programmes will be operating in 2024.

FoE High School STEM Programme

Illuminating pathways into study and careers

Pacific people have rich heritages of science, technology, engineering and maths. The world needs Pacific know-how, thinking and innovation.

The University works with local high schools and teachers to enhance knowledge of STEM study and careers amongst Pacific high school students and parents through weekly shared kai and learning activities based on cultural legacies of STEM.

UoW students act as Navigators, share cultural legacies, degree and qualification information, and their love of STEM and learning.

For more information, email Dau ni Talitali Pacific Engagement Manager Sianiti Nakabea Bulisala.

The Tupaia Challenge

Celebrating Pacific cultures, languages and young people

The legendary Tahitian warrior-scholar, Tupaia, courageously navigated and explored a changing world. Today's Pacific youth face a challenging and exciting world of opportunities including university study and careers.

The Tupaia Challenge is co-sponsored by the University of Waikato and the Waikato Pasifika Teachers Association. This three-day event provides opportunities for Pacific high school students to learn more about university study and careers while having fun competing in kilikiti (Samoan cricket), cultural performance and oratory competitions. 

Students will learn more about charting their course of success while high schools compete against each other for the ultimate prize.

For more information, email Dau ni Talitali Pacific Engagement Manager Sianiti Nakabea Bulisala.

Imua Initiative

Leadership and success in the first year of study 

In many Pacific languages, the word mua is associated with leading or moving forward.

The Imua Initiative draws on cultural legacies of learning excellence and leadership, provides wraparound manaakitanga for Pacific students, builds crucial academic and digital skills for university study, and introduces students to our Waikato Pacific family.

Students who complete this program get a headstart on preparation, have a high pass rate and get better grades in their courses. Students leave the program as learner-leaders. The program is free of charge to all Pacific first year students.

For more information, email Dau ni Talitali Pacific Engagement Manager Sianiti Nakabea Bulisala.

Aiga on Campus

Partnering with Pacific families

A famous alaga'aupu Samoa or Samoan proverb says: O le tagata ma lona aiga, o le tagata ma lona fa'asinomaga — Every person belongs to a family and every family belongs to a person.

Pacific learners represent the aspirations of families, communities and nations. The new 'Āiga on Campus program recognizes the crucial role that Pacific families can play in the success of Pacific learners.

Through this programme, parents, partners and other family members can experience the campus, learn more about 'āiga, culture and community on campus, attend mini-lectures and learn more about how they can best support their student.

For more information, email Dau ni Talitali Pacific Engagement Manager Sianiti Nakabea Bulisala.

Palu Undergraduate Navigators

One-on-one peer support and mentorship

Palu are master navigators from Micronesia who have led the revitalisation of voyaging in places like Hawai'i and Aotearoa by passing down their precious knowledge and teaching others.

This program provides culturally responsive, one-on-one support to Pacific undergraduate students. It connects them with central and divisional services and resources.

Senior Pacific students act as more experienced navigators of study, helping other students navigate study, services and opportunities.

Our team of Palu Navigators can be found at set times on Level 2 of Te Manawa and at the Tauranga campus for walk-ins during teaching periods.

For more information, email Taki Ako Lecturer Dr Hennah Steven.

Calling the Island Programme

Preparing for careers, further study and finishing well

The name of this cultural legacy initiative refers to a traditional Pacific navigation technique whereby the mind of the navigator is so focused on their destination that it is as if they are living and breathing their goal — and as if the island comes to them (Māori navigator, Hoturoa Kerr-Barclay).

This new initiative is designed to help Pacific students in their final year of study to focus on completion by maximizing career, further study and other options — and ultimately, finishing well.

This program includes regular workshops to brush up on senior research and writing skills, careers and employment preparation, Impact Lab work-integrated learning, and other leadership opportunities.

For more information, email Taki Ako Lecturer Dr Hennah Steven.

Challenge the Horizon Programme

Success in graduate study and beyond

The noted scholar, artist and poet, Dr Derek Lardelli, spoke at an University of Waikato marae graduation several years ago. His wero to the students graduating that day was to "challenge the horizon", as their voyaging ancestors did in the Pacific, and to excel.

Pacific students undertaking graduate programs including PhD programs, higher degrees or qualifications are often few in number in their chosen programmes and may be under-represented in their fields, but their voice, leadership and experience are needed in the world.

This program recognises their leadership and seeks to maximize scholarship, research, academic and career opportunities — and finishing well.

For more information, email Taki Ako Lecturer Dr Hennah Steven.

Lo‘i Research and Innovation Hub

Growing a thriving ecosystem of Pacific research, researchers and research excellence

For an ecosystem to thrive, water must flow right through it from mauka to makai — or from the mountains to the sea, reef and beyond. It must flow from the trees on the ridge of the mountain to the lo'i — or taro patch where the community comes together to work together — to the ocean of possibilities beyond. Because it is so important, taking care of the water is everyone's responsibility. 

Currently in development, the Lo'i Pacific Research and Innovation Hub is a place where diverse stakeholders can come together in a spirit of indigenous innovation to achieve meaningful impact and to deliver outcomes that matter to Pacific communities, organisations and various stakeholders. 

Like a Pacific wetland taro patch, the Hub is a place for growing a thriving ecosystem of Pacific research, researchers and research excellence. Our goal is an abundant ecosystem where research and more equitable outcomes for Pacific people and communities flow freely as we work together.

For more information, email Assistant Vice-Chancellor Pacific Dr Keakaokawai Varner Hemi.

Te Pōkingā Ngaru Leadership Programme

Pacific staff leadership, professional development and success

Catching and riding waves in vaka, on boards and with the body itself have a long tradition in Moananuiākea — the Pacific Ocean. Successful wave riding depends on one's placement on the wave, the agility and strength to catch the wave, and balance. 

In Rarotonga, the crest of the wave is called te pōkingā ngaru. As surfers around the world know, the ability to catch the wave at this crest often produces more power, more speed and greater success.

This new culturally responsive programme is designed to empower Pacific staff in their leadership journeys and careers through workshops, mentoring, professional development, ASP, GSSR and PBRF support, leadership building, and well-being thinking.

For more information, email Assistant Vice-Chancellor Pacific Dr Keakaokawai Varner Hemi.

In Our Language: Journal of Pacific Research

Equitising Pacific languages and making Pacific research more accessible 

Pacific languages have been the vehicles and repositories of virtual libraries of indigenous knowledge, know-how and learning for millennia.

The University of Waikato is committed to open access research and increasing the languages that research is published in to increase more equitable outcomes.

In Our Language is an open access journal that seeks to make Pacific research, researchers and research excellence more accessible by translating and publishing previously published articles in Pacific languages. Through translation, we seek to give Pacific people a more equitable voice in research and to draw upon the valuable knowledge, know-how and learning in Pacific languages.