Pacific at Waikato

Education changes lives. Your university journey is the beginning of great things. Start your journey well.

Profile pic of Dr Keakaokawai
Dr Keakaokawai (Keaka) Varner Hemi
Assistant Vice-Chancellor Pacific

Kia orāna, mālō e lelei, tālofa lava, fakaalofa lahi atu, ni sa bula vinaka, taloha ni, halo olaketa, kia orana, ko na mauri, tālofa, aloha and warm Pacific greetings. Welcome to the University of Waikato!

Our Pacific theme at Waikato is imua.  For many of us with roots in the Pacific, imua or words like it are familiar to us.  In te reo Māori, i mua atu means “before”.  In Samoa, muamua means “to advance”, and also “before” and “unprecedented”.  In Tonga, laka atu ki muʻa means “go forward”.  In other places, the words also translate.  In Kiribati, tere means “to go forward” while waki can mean “to go forward” but also “to realize”.  In Hawai̒i, imua can also mean “before” but often means “forward” or “go forward”.  In Hawai̒i, it is a famous battle cry and motto.

When you come to Waikato, we want you to imua.  Wherever you are now – whether honours student, first-in-family, school leaver, mature learner or not – we want you to go forward, to progress and strive.  We also want you to lead from the front, to set an example and to help lift others to do better too.  For this reason, we have a great team of dedicated staff and various resources in place to assist your journey.

Pacifica students studying at a table

Studying at Waikato

We provide an internationally recognised education in a friendly and supportive campus environment. Our campuses have everything students need for their university journey, including well-equipped lecture theatres, computer labs, a state-of-the-art library and fantastic study space.

There’s also the added benefit of on-campus cafés, student support services, health services and fitness facilities walking distance.

We have a laid-back campus atmosphere with plenty of opportunities to make life-long friends, participate in sporting and cultural activities, join student clubs, and access to our world-leading teaching staff.

To find out more about the Pacific student experience contact our Future Student Adviser (Pacific) at [email protected]

Choosing your course

We offer a broad range of degrees, diplomas and certificates across more than 100 subjects. Our degree programmes are flexible, meaning you can customise your qualification to suit your strengths, interests and career plans. This ensures you graduate fully prepared for life beyond study.

We appreciate that many students have ongoing work and family commitments, and so we offer full- and part-time study options.

To find out more about our qualifications visit or contact our Future Student Adviser (Pacific) at [email protected]

Three Pacific students sitting around a table in front of a laptop

Pacifica students group shot outdoors

Pacific student support

We have a dedicated Pacific Student Success Coordinator who can help with course planning, accommodation, finding Pacific student groups and more. We also offer many other student support services, including:

  • The Imua initiative:
    The Imua initiative is a success- and culture-based programme designed to help first -year students successfully transition into tertiary study and to continue progressing through key stages of the university journey.  Students have the opportunity to grow as scholars and leaders. All first year and new students welcome.
  • Student Learning:
    Pacific Support Staff are available to help you from 1pm - 2pm every Wednesday of the teaching week in the Conch.
  • Pacific support in divisions:
    Programme planning and subject specific assistance is available in your Division / school of study.
  • Pacific study groups/sessions:
    Provided in various Divisions, Faculties and Schools. Read More
  • Pacific support staff:
    We have a number of Pacific and non-Pacific staff in academic and support roles who are committed to your success. Make sure you reach out with any questions or requests.

For a full list of our student support services, visit or contact our Pacific Student Success Coordinator at [email protected]

Pacific Student Associations

We have all sorts of sports and student clubs at our Hamilton and Tauranga campuses. These are a great way to meet new people, try something different, and familiarise yourself with the University. There are many student groups specifically for Pacific Students, including:

  • Pacific Island Parents Students Association
  • Pacific Islands Management Students Association
  • Pacific Law Students Association
  • Papua New Guinea Students Association
  • Solomon Islands Students Waikato Association
  • STEM Pacific and Māori
  • Tutala Niue
  • Waikato Uni-Tech Tongan Students Association
  • Waikato University Cook Island Students Association
  • Waikato University Fijian Students Association
  • Waikato University Kiribati Students Association
  • Waikato University Samoan Student Association
  • Waikato University Tuvalu Students Association
  • Waikato University Vanuatu Students Association

Three Pacifica students sitting around a table

The Conch

The Conch is our dedicated Pacific student space, and is located on Level Zero of the Student Centre. This space provides a community centre that is distinctively Pacific. It is the perfect place to relax in between classes, work together on your projects, and hang out with friends and meet other Pacific students. To find out more about The Conch, contact our Pacific Student Success Coordinator at [email protected]


At Waikato we know a helping hand goes a long way in turning a smart brain into a great mind. We offer several scholarships for new Pacific students:

To find out more about our Pacific student scholarships, and the many other scholarships on offer visit

Student Success Stories

Dr Sangata Kaufononga
Sangata Kaufononga
PhD majoring in Chemistry (Analytical and Organic)

My name is Sangata Kaufononga. Wife to a lovely Tongan husband, David, and a mother of four beautiful children. I am the first Tongan to graduate from the University of Waikato with a PhD majoring in Chemistry (Analytical and Organic) and the seventh Tongan PhD student to have graduated from the University of Waikato.

My journey began with my BSc (Chemistry and Mathematics) from the University of the South Pacific, Fiji in 2004, before my family and I migrated to Hamilton in 2010 and started at the University of Waikato in 2011. At the time, our youngest son was three months old and our eldest daughter was five years old. It was a challenging journey and yes, I nailed it and graduated with a Graduate Certificate (2011), Master of Science (2014), and PhD majoring in Chemistry (2019). During my time at the University of Waikato, I was also the president of the WUTTSA (Waikato Uni-Tech Tongan Student Association) from 2015 to 2016, and have been involved in various Pacific at Waikato activities. I was also honoured as the recipient of the TAPA Awards from 2012 to 2018, resulting in my PhD study being fully funded by AgResearch Ltd.

I would love to see more Pacific students excel and be successful in their academic journey, because if I can do it, they can do it!