Taita College ex-head boy excited with fees free opportunity
Eighteen year-old Kaisa Fa’atui (pictured) is not afraid of the limelight – in fact he is very comfortable in it.
Kaisa has enrolled in first year drama at Toi Whakaari (New Zealand Drama School).
For him, drama and creativity are everything – his passion.
He is in his happy place when he’s able to develop his “creative expression of the mind and of the heart”.
When Kaisa was head boy at Taita College he had a deep and passionate understanding of students’ hopes and dreams for their futures.
He’d get goose-bumps when students looked up to him for inspiration.
Kaisa had been considering going to Toi Whakaari since he was in about year 11, as even then he loved performing and he knew Toi Whakaari was dedicated to drama and the arts.
Last year Kaisa watched the election very closely, particularly what was happening around tertiary education.
If the fees free initiative was implemented it would change his circumstances significantly.
“This (fees free) is significant for my family – for my parents and for me,” he says.
“They no long have to worry about how we will all cope financially.”
For his parents, it’s about their son being able to pursue his dream.
Kaiser’s family are not rich and they were worried he would be tied down with a student loan in his first year of study.
They were worried about (but prepared for) how much they would have to support him financially to make ends meet, to ensure he could focus on his study.
But now that pressure has been lifted, and he feels blessed they can now put their energy into providing him with the motivation to succeed.
They have always fully supported him in his education and they know how creative and passionate he is about drama and the arts.
His passion for drama and performance is in his genes he thinks, as it’s been in his family a long time.
Kaisa was part of his church performances while he was growing up.
He became heavily involved in debating and speech writing at school, so he sees drama school as a natural transition to keep following that passion.
If the financial pressure was there he knew his focus would be different – it would be more stressful, and that thought was a huge barrier.
Now his sole concentration for his study will be on being the best performer and creator he can be – pressure off.
Kaisa has a strong sense of pride as a student from Taita College.
“It’s really cool, it’s become like a second family.
“If they see you are keen on something in particular, they will back you 100 percent - I can’t say enough about the support we get here.”
He also feels a huge sense of camaraderie and pride when his friends say, “Whoa, what you’re doing is really cool!” and then they want to join him and get involved in drama too.
Kaisa says he learns as much from those who get involved as they learn from him – everyone has a different perspective and contributes different creative ideas and expressions.
“Taita – they’re my family and I will always keep in touch with the people and the school, no matter what.”
He does not see himself as a role model for Pasifika students – but that is the nature of this young man.
“But if you’re doing really cool things and people love it and want to be like you, then that’s awesome.”
As for the future, Kaisa would like to create his own theatre company one day.
“Perhaps it will have a focus on social issues, mental health issues, and I’d really enjoy political satire.”
But at this stage he’s open to all possibilities.
“I just want to embrace everything, whatever comes my way and I’ll make decisions as I move forward, who knows what the possibilities are.”
In the last two years at Taita College, NCEA results have increased L1 by 12 percent; L2 by 20 percent; and L3 by 11.
Find out more about fees-free study HERE.