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Student Voice

4 December 2017



Tevita Banuve is a gentle giant - a rubgy sevens-playing young man with a soft-spoken manner and a heart of gold.

His parents urged Tevita to leave his home nation of Fiji as a teenager in order to pursue a Kiwi education. While it was quite an adjustment, the well-natured and resilient lad quickly found his niche in his new home.

Fast forward eleven years and Tevita is still happily living – and studying – in New Zealand. He’s recently relocated to Tauranga where he was one of the lucky few to get accepted to study teaching remotely through the University of Waikato.

We were invited into Tevita’s central Mount Maunganui home to hear how his parent’s decision to send him abroad has paid off.

Growing Up in Fiji

Tevita is from the Fijian capital city Suva but his paternal roots are from the much smaller village of Nakobo near Savu-savu, a boat ride and an island away from the city where he was born and bred.

“Growing up in Suva was good. It’s island living: nice pace of life, hot! Very different to New Zealand.

I have strong ties to Savu-savu and we would make the trip over there to visit family most years.”

Moving to New Zealand to Study

Tevita’s parents sent him to Auckland’s prestigious Sacred Heart College boarding school when he was fourteen years old so that he could gain the high-quality education that New Zealand is famous for.

“I wasn’t too keen on moving here at that young age, but I could quickly see there was good quality education and lots of opportunities.”

Tevita had trouble sleeping his first few nights, but he soon discovered an inclusive Fijian community, got involved with his fellow boarders at school and made friends with many Kiwi boys. Obviously, he has taken to life in New Zealand, because over a decade later, he’s still here.

At the start of 2016, Tevita, who had just finished his Bachelor of Arts at the University of Otago, followed his Kiwi partner Kate to her hometown of Tauranga.

Life in Tauranga

After the cold winters of Dunedin, Tevita is enjoying Tauranga’s warmer climate. He lives right downtown Mount Maunganui, where it takes under a minute to walk to the gorgeous Pilot Bay. After taking some time to find his feet in Tauranga, Tevita settled into life balancing study while working for a builder.

“Last year I realised what I want to do with my degree. I have a passion for working with young people and I thought teaching would fill that void.”

Tevita is one of very few students who got accepted to study teaching at the University of Waikato in Tauranga. This means he gets to keep his job, his amazing flat and stay in the same city as his partner while pursuing a Diploma in Secondary Teaching via correspondence.

Studying at the University of Waikato

I was very lucky to get in to study here in Tauranga. Because our class is so small – only 28 students – we get a lot of one-on-one time with the facilitator and I’ve gotten to know my classmates really well. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made.”

Tevita has just completed the one year Diploma and has had interviews at a few great schools in Tauranga. His first practicum was at Tauranga Boys’ College where he taught year 11 and 12 geography as well as year 9 and 10 social studies.

“I’m specialising in social sciences with a major in geography. Because of what I studied in Otago, I can also teach business and junior level maths.”

Fiji Vs New Zealand

Two islands in the South Pacific, there are similarities between Fiji and New Zealand. They’re both nations surrounded by sea, obsessed with fishing and have a strong rugby culture. But there are major differences as well.

“Fiji is more family-focused. Every Sunday is family day, and the extended family spends the day together. That’s what I miss the most.”

Luckily, Fiji isn’t too far away and Tevita gets to visit his home every couple of years.

What do you Love about Tauranga?

I love how it’s a nice small city. Auckland was too big. Fijian made products are easy to find. I work in Papamoa, right by the beach and there’s beautiful weather. Then I come home and can go for a walk by the beach. The people are also very friendly.”

Tevita hopes to get accepted into a teaching role in Tauranga so he can continue to enjoy life and put down roots here in Tauranga.

Advice for International Students

“Finding a good working environment is important – more so, I’d say, than the job itself. Get involved in the local community. I’ve met many great people through church. And summer time in the Mount is wonderful!”

Want to learn more about studying in tauranga?

Join us on Facebook and contact Regional Relationship Manager Melissa Gillingham for more information:

Melissa Gillingham

 Regional Relationship Manager

 Education Tauranga

 Tel: +64 7 571 1401 ext. 707 | Mob: +64 21 724 272    
 Address: Private Bag 13057, Tauranga 3141, New Zealand  
 Email me