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More Than 400 Line Up For Ara |Te Pūkenga Spring Graduation

Certificates, Diplomas, Degrees, Post-Grad qualifications and Masters to be awarded

From Skills for Working and Web Design to Architecture and Automotive Engineering, ākonga of all walks are preparing to walk the stage at Ōtautahi’s Wolfbrook Arena to be awarded their qualifications on Friday.

Among the awardees are 19 with post-graduate qualifications, and many Ara kaimahi (staff) who have continued their own learning journeys at Ara | Te Pūkenga - New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology, Aotearoa’s largest education provider.

Student speaker, Bachelor of Nursing graduate Siulolo Palu, a first-generation Tongan tertiary scholar, was looking forward to the moment and having the opportunity to thank those who had "lit her path" and celebrate all those "on the brink of a new chapter".

"I’m looking forward to acknowledging my family, mentors, the Pacific Achievement Team, and tutors who patiently guided me," Palu said. "Also the friends who offered companionship when the journey felt lonely. They’ve taught me that community is a lifeline, and the support of others can carry us further than we ever thought possible."

Joining her in the lineup of more than 100 Bachelor of Nursing graduates is Leon Haiu. The 44-year-old faced many challenges on his road to nursing. But today marks the fulfilment of a calling he first felt when he experienced the care and kindness of the palliative nursing team that cared for his family in the loss of his brother to cancer.

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The son of New Zealand’s first Uvean-born immigrant, he’s proud to be among the less than two percent of Pacific males now working in frontline nursing.

"It’s powerful to be visible as a man in a care-centred role - but it’s intrinsic to who we are as Pacific people," he said. "The way we’re raised and how we are is about service and caring for others."

Ara Operations Lead Karen Te Puke acknowledged the challenges faced by Ara’s Spring 2023 graduates whose skills "embodied those needed for our industries and our changing world".

"I know that their years of study were likely to have been full of challenge and change with many facing adversity during difficult pandemic times. More recently, considerable financial pressures may have come to bear on many of these ākonga studying while working, bringing up a family, or supporting older loved ones. I applaud their perseverance," Te Puke said.

Among those who had persevered through those challenges were three mature students from one business - an employer and two staff who studied the New Zealand Certificate in Cookery together.

Tai Tapu Store and Café co-owner Lesley Edwards said kitchen staff Jadene Thompson and Michelle Magon had helped her through.

"They were good at the cooking side, and I was stronger on the written side having been a teacher for 20 years - so it really was teamwork to get us through," she said, adding that the entire staff were heading out to celebrate the trio that evening.

The ceremony gets underway at 2pm will be livestreamed at www. beginning with a welcome from representatives of Ara’s Te Puna Wānaka and Te Whānau o Te Mātauranga Māori. (ends)

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