Bachelor of Music student Emmanuel Fonoti-Fuimaono will receive a Tertiary Achievement in Pacific Ako (TAPA) award at a special ceremony later this month. He’s one of 28 high-achieving Pacific students whose academic accomplishments are being recognised and celebrated by the University of Waikato.
The annual TAPA awards were established to encourage the achievement and participation of Pacific students in tertiary education. Earlier this year the University of Waikato launched a new Pacific Plan to further support and develop Pacific students, researchers and staff, focusing on ways to build and enhance Pacific achievement. Emmanuel says he’s grateful for the financial support. “It feels great to be recognised as a Pacific Islander doing well,” he says. “Since moving to Hamilton I have slowly immersed myself into the Pacific Island community so this event will help me meet and connect with even more people.”
What made you choose to study at Waikato?
I had cousins living in the Waikato so that’s why I thought about moving here. I chose Waikato University because the music department is smaller and more intimate, which means I receive more personalised teaching.
What’s your favourite subject and why?
Music is my favourite, particularly voice and harmony. I love the sound of a group of people harmonising. Growing up in Hawke’s Bay, I had a lot of encouragement about my voice, and I think music is one of the things that keeps my family really close-knit.
What does a typical day look like for you?
My typical day starts out with coming to the University for music classes. I also play basketball and love to hang out and have jam sessions with my friends and classmates.
Highlight of your degree so far?
I think the people around me have been the highlight of my degree. My classmates are from diverse backgrounds, which is very inspiring, and everyone is incredibly supportive of each other. I really like my lecturers as they encourage me to better myself – and my vocal tutor is great.
You’ve won a TAPA (Tertiary Achievement in Pacific Ako) award. What does it mean to you?
I was shocked when I was told I’d be receiving it – it feels great to be recognised as a Pacific Islander doing well. Also the scholarship means I have the financial support to apply for competitions and summer opera camps.
What’s your number one tip for making the most of uni life?
I think finding a work-life balance is important. That’s something I’ve got better at since beginning my degree. It’s important to focus on your studies but to also recognise that studying all the time isn’t healthy.
How do you think you can make a difference through your studies?
I’ve already had a positive influence on my siblings, and in 2019 three of them will be coming to Waikato to study classical music. I hope that upon graduating, I can become a role model to those thinking about pursuing music.
What do you plan on doing when you finish your degree?
My dream is to play in Carnegie Hall in New York or sing in the Metropolitan Opera, and my goal is to make my family proud and keep studying and working hard to improve my voice.
What would you advise other Pacific students who are thinking about studying at Waikato?
Turn up to class! Just kidding. I think you should assess the University environment and adapt to it. University is like a bus trip – there are lots of opportunities on the way, so you should go with the flow but always try to head in the right direction and maintain who you are.