University of Otago Pasifika On-Campus Experience

27 May University of Otago Pasifika On-Campus Experience

From Sunday 23rd May – Tuesday 25th May, we were very blessed to attend the University of Otago through a three-day Pasifika On-Campus Experience scholarship. This programme was designed for 60 Pasifika students across New Zealand to experience the life of a University of Otago student. The other Pasifika students chosen were like-minded to us, wanting to succeed in a system designed for others.

We were fortunate enough to attend multiple lectures on the two open days ranging from First Year Health Sciences to Law and Pasifika studies. We came to realise the various opportunities we have after college and the support we are entitled to at Otago University. We each stayed in one of the 15 different residential halls/flatblocks they offer, which included Cumberland College, Knox Castle, and the Pasifika Fofoa Flatblocks. 

At Otago University, we are very valued as Pasifika students through amazing support systems and caring staff who are happily available to all of the Pasifika students at Otago. 

Our POCE experience can be summarised as an invaluable experience that expanded the realm of educational knowledge. We all developed a deeper appreciation for our heritage through our various Samoan and Tongan performances and speeches. We left Dunedin with a greater understanding of the University and ourselves as proud Pasifika students.

by Danika Schuster, Tayla Pearce and Akosita Guttenbeil


“The highlight of my Otago POCE was being inspired and uplifted by the will of the other attending Pasifika students. As descendents from Polynesia, we all share the same fire that cannot be extinguished. I came to realise that our relentless work ethic as Pasifika students is being overshadowed by generational stereotypes. POCE taught me an invaluable lesson that the Pasifika community is the only community to break these stereotypes and only when we are united.” Danika Schuster

“My highlight of being involved in the 2021 Otago POCE was being educated on the reality of university. It is not the linear experience we all think it is, but rather a rollercoaster of opportunities and pathways that cater your studies to your desires. It truly doesn’t matter where you study or how far away you are from home – it’s about what you make of the support and resources provided.”  Tayla Pearce

“My highlight of attending the Otago POCE programme was that I was able to experience the life of being a university student. Through this I was able to understand that university is not as terrifying as I thought it would be. Instead I met a lot of wonderful people who supported and guided me throughout my visit to Otago. So, from my experience at Otago University, I’ve learnt that Pasifika and Maori students are offered many opportunities and support during their time in tertiary study. Therefore you should grasp every opportunity you can and strive for progress not perfection” Akosita Guttenbeil. 

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