Sau Lefeau

Bachelor of Social Sciences

Māori and Pacific Development, Sociology

Key Info

  • Bachelor of Social Sciences
  • Māori and Pacific Development
  • Sociology
  • Michael Caiger Memorial Scholarship
  • Tertiary Achievement in Pacific Ako Award
  • 2017 Vice Chancellor’s Adult Learner Award

Growing up, Sau Lefeau never considered university, believing she wasn’t “smart enough” for higher education. Living on the poverty line, she dropped out of school aged 16 to start working. But after years of questioning why some people struggle more than others, Sau decided to seek some answers – and studying Māori and Pacific Development and Sociology at the University of Waikato was the perfect way to do so.

The first in her family to attend university, Sau has exceeded her own expectations and is on the home stretch of her Bachelor of Social Sciences. She won the Tertiary Achievement in Pacific Ako (TAPA) Award two years in a row, recognising her commitment to her culture and community. She also won the 2017 Vice Chancellor’s Adult Learner Award, and has just been awarded the Michael Caiger Memorial Scholarship.

“I’m humbled and grateful for the scholarships I have received,” Sau says. “Financial barriers are very much a reality for me, so it makes a big difference.”

Sau has balanced her studies with full-time work, while raising her two children. She has very little spare time, but constantly reminds herself that her hard work now will benefit her, and others, in the long run.

“It hasn’t been a solo effort though,” she says. “My family, particularly my partner and two children, have inspired and helped me along the way.”

Sau says the best part of her university experience has been applying her study to her job. She works at Kids First Whānau Centre, a residential programme that gives women and children a place of safety, support and education.

“It’s been a real blessing to use my learnings out in the real world. I’ve also formed some great friendships while studying, and the encouragement we give each other keeps morale up during difficult times.”

Sau loves her job and, although she doesn’t have a set path for the future, she knows what she wants to be doing – helping people.

“I don’t like to predict too far into the future, because life has shown me that not everything goes to plan. But I definitely want to work in the social service sector, serving the most vulnerable in our community.”

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