Building Pacific hopes and dreams
Civil Engineering student Hawaiki Wallace (pictured) likes to build things, including the hopes and dreams of Pacific people throughout the region.
Hawaiki, of Samoan and Maori descent, is studying a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours), at the University of Canterbury, in Christchurch.
“In the future, I hope to be able to add to the growth of our Pacific nations by building infrastructure which aids the development in roads, bridges and benefits the people,” Hawaiki says.
A student prefect at Tawa College and the student representative on the schools Board of Trustees, Hawaiki has always been involved in a variety of activities, from performing arts, sports and community work as well as performing well at school.
Certain he wanted to pursue engineering at university to improve communities throughout the Pacific, Hawaiki successfully applied for a Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) funded Toloa Tertiary Scholarship in 2017.
The Toloa Programme began in 2016, with aims to increase awareness about STEM among Pacific communities; raise the number of Pacific people studying STEM subjects; and improve the number of Pacific people moving into STEM related careers.
Toloa Tertiary Scholarships encourage Pacific students pursue studies in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects at tertiary level, and therefore raise the number Pacific people employed in STEM careers.
Scholarships are valued at up to $25,000 each, and cover course and compulsory fees and will be paid over a period of three years to first year undergraduate or postgraduate recipients, and recipients also receive some mentoring during their studies.
Last year was Hawaiki’s first at university, and he says it was both exciting and challenging.
“I really learnt to be more independent by being away from home (Titahi Bay), and I have made some lifelong friends,” he says.
Receiving his Toloa Scholarship meant he could focus on university life rather than finances.
“It was such an honour and a privilege and to be able to study without placing financial pressure on my parents has been a blessing from above.
“It has given me the extra motivation to strive for never-ending improvement in my studies and in my own personal growth.”
A believer in giving back to the Pacific community he stems from, Hawaiki will endeavour to become involved in projects which benefit Pacific nations; and also to pass on his good fortune by encouraging more involvement from businesses in engineering to sponsor more Pacific students going through university.
“There should be more Pacific people in STEM careers, because we have so much talent and vision built on a tremendous love for both our Pacific nations and our families,” he adds.
“The more involved we are with creating infrastructure which will aid our future development in the region, the more we work towards a future which will benefit our people.”
Recipients of the 2018 Toloa Scholarships will be announced soon, and this will be followed by a celebration and presentation at an awards ceremony (date TBC).
Visit MPP for more information on the Toloa Programme.