Growing up in poverty and lessons at ‘Unuaki ‘O Tonga drove academic success

A Tongan graduate from the Martin Hautus Institute in Auckland said growing up in poverty and the lessons she learned at the ʻUnuaki ʻo Tonga Institute were the forces that drove her to graduate last week.

Keylani Lisa Marie Hale Savieti, 27, graduated with a Diploma in Information Technology and Computer Service and will continue her studies at the Whitireia New Zealand Institute in May.

She hopes to graduate with a BA in 2018.

Savieti said her success was driven by coping with the huge challenges she faced from the moment she arrived in New Zealand in January last year.

Everything was new to her. She had to wake up at 7am to take a bus from Manurewa where she lived to Manukau where she had to get another bus to go to Onehunga where the Martin Institute is located

“It was difficult, but I know that’s how life is and I have to bear in my mind our little island and how people are brought up there in poverty,” Savieti said.

Lisa
Keylani Lisa Marie Hale Savieti. Photo/Supplied

She said she was taught lessons at the Unuaki ‘o Tonga Royal Institute (‘UTRI) she did not forget when she was studying for her diploma in New Zealand.

“I was really happy when I studied at ‘UTRI because they had practical courses in which students practised professional hospitality, cultural dances and discipline skills,” Savieti said.

Savieti said she felt the students were specially treated at ‘UTRI. She said she wanted to encourage Tongan students to consider studying at ‘UTRI as their practical courses helped when she came to New Zealand.

Because she was successful in her first year in New Zealand, Savieti urged other students to pursue their education in New Zealand at the Martin Hautus Institute.

She said students could study at the school in the same way as she did.

She first paid part of her school fees to allow her to obtain a student visa. When she obtained her student visa she moved to New Zealand and applied for a job to help pay for her education costs and living expenses.

“Don’t ever give up on your dreams, dream big and aim high because at the end you will achieve your target,” Savieti said.

“Your future is in your hands.”

Savieti said she prayed when she was struggling with her studies.

The Director of ‘UTRI ‘Akosita Lavulavu said the school helped students get their visa before they were enrolled with Martin Hautus Institute, their partnering school in New Zealand.

She said they kept in touch with their students while they were in New Zealand and helped guide them if they wanted to pursue further studies.

She said UTRI had partnered with the Martin Hautus Institute for the past three years.

Savieti was one of the six students from UTRI who graduated last Wednesday (March 23).

Savieti studied at Takuilau College before enrolling with the Tonga Training Institute. She said she heard about ‘UTRI and enrolled there in 2014.

The Martin Hautus graduates are:

  1. Lavinia Hakalo from Ngele’ia
    2. Keylani Lisa Marie Hale from Tatakomotonga
    3. Atelaite Lupe Saipaia from Tatakomotonga
    4. Sela Ngahe from Tofoa
    5. Lolie Tangi from Fo’oui
    6. Linda Fifita from Halaleva

The main points

  • A Tongan graduate from the Martin Hautus Institute in Auckland said growing up in poverty and the lessons she learned at the ʻUnuaki ʻo Tonga Institute were the forces that drove her to graduate last week.
  • Keylani Lisa Marie Hale Savieti, 27, graduated with a Diploma in Information Technology and will continue her studies at the Whitireia New Zealand Institute in May.
  • She hopes to graduate with a BA in 2018.
  • Savieti said her success had been driven by coping with the huge challenges she faced from the moment she arrived in New Zealand in January last year.

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