Pacific Scholars Selected for Prestigious Kupe Scholarships

Ten outstanding Pacific student teachers have been awarded a Kupe Scholarship by Education Minister Hekia Parata in a ceremony held in Parliament, Wellington, on Monday 25th July.



The prestigious scholarships recognise highly accomplished Māori and Pacific students and supports them to complete their teaching qualification and gain further success teaching in the early childhood, primary and secondary teaching sectors.


Ministry of Education’s Deputy Secretary, Early Learning and Student Achievement, Lisa Rodgers says, “we are excited with the calibre of scholars that the Kupe Scholarship continues to attract.” 


Each year, 30 Kupe Scholarships are awarded to students based on strong academic success and demonstrable leadership experience in their respective whānau, communities and iwi.


“They are high achievers, they are role models, and they care deeply about their respective communities,” says Ms Rodgers. “This scholarship provides an opportunity for them to be inspiring, role model teachers, who will make a positive difference in the lives of children.”

Kupe scholarship recipients will have their course fees paid, a $15,000 study allowance, professional mentoring and assistance with finding a job.


Pacific Kupe Scholars


Matani Fakatotua Schaaf, PhD Candidate, BA (Hons), Dunedin, Otago University


Matani will graduate with a doctorate in December 2016, having successfully completed his PhD thesis on motivation and burnout among Pacific professional rugby players. He is a rugby coach for the forwards for Otago’s John McGlashan College, a boys’ college.


Matani is currently completing a Masters of Teaching and Learning. Fluent in te reo Māori and his native Tongan, Matani has taught both languages at community night classes. He is actively involved as a leader and participant in Dunedin’s cultural and religious life, including his wife’s Samoan community. He is passionate about students leaving his classroom with a love of learning. As an educator, he values continuous personal and professional development. He would like to teach mathematics and te reo Māori at secondary school. Matani completed his PhD at Te Tumu School of Māori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies at Otago University.


Fredrick Simpson, BSci (Physics), Mt Wellington, University of Auckland

Fijian Tongan


Recently graduated with a Bachelor of Science, majoring in physics, Fredrick is currently completing a Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Primary). In the past, he has helped out after school and school holiday programmes in South Auckland primary schools including Rongomai and Flatbush. With the support of his wife, he juggles full-time study with life as a young adult pastor for 18 to 30 year olds at his local church.


Salamasina Leilua, BSci (Zoology), Howick, University of Auckland

Samoan, European, Māori


With a family involved in the Pacific arts media scene, she breaks the mould with a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Zoology, from Otago University. She has since added to her technical qualifications with certificates in finfish culture (ornamental and farmed fish) and companion animal services. Completing a Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Secondary), Salamasina’s dream is to be a science teacher and a mentor for Pacific students.


Patrick Mose, BA (Hons), New Windsor, University of Auckland



Since majoring in political studies for his honours degree more than a decade ago, he’s inspired to become a teacher and is now completing a Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Secondary). Former Marketing Advisor (Pacific) at UNITEC and active in his Church, he has engaged with young people regularly through community events. He’s also a singer, songwriter and band leader that won the Gospel music awards category in the Pacific Music Awards.


Moana Toleafoa, BSR, Dip SR, Wiri, Auckland University of Technology



A love for sports saw Moana win sportswoman awards in her Year 9 and Year 10 at Otahuhu College and at James Cook High School’s teen parent unit. She recently completed a Bachelor of Sports and Recreation degree. Fluent in Samoan and English, she spent part of her education in Samoa attending Samoa College and the National University of Samoa. In Auckland, she coaches touch rugby for the Papatoetoe High School Girls First 15 and is a church youth leader at Papatoetoe EFKS denomination. Her challenging experiences as a teen parent instilled within her a resolve to complete her education and follow her dreams. She is now completing a Graduate Diploma in Secondary Teaching.


Zion Tesese, Papatoetoe, University of Auckland



Representative rugby league player for Auckland and Counties Manukau from the Under 16s to the Premier level. Off the field, Zion’s studying towards a Bachelor of Physical Education (Secondary). He’s helped out at a homework centre in Otara and currently helps to lead a senior leadership programme called Enable at Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate. In another life, Zion was a baritone barbershop singer. Originally from Papatoetoe, he hopes to teach in his local South Auckland community.


Suit-keen Kovati, Waiuku, Waikato University

New Zealand-born Samoan


Former Auckland retail store manager and mother of two boys, Suit-keen is following her passion to teach children. Re-training to be a school teacher by studying towards a Bachelor of Teaching degree at Waikato. She completed an AFS student exchange to Denmark during her high school years.


Fiana Tuli, BA (Psychology & Pacific Studies), Favona, University of Auckland



After working as a teacher aide for Otara’s Yendarra Primary, she realised she wanted to be a teacher. Outside of the classroom, she is a popular Tongan dance tutor who has taught school groups vying for a Polyfest placing. She is also involved with the Tongan Catholic Latakic Youth Group. Currently completing a Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Primary).


Mosese Uhila, BPSA (Performing & Screen Arts), Mangere Bridge, Auckland


Mosese is a member of the performing arts group named Tongan Creatives (T.C). He holds a Bachelor of Performing and Screen Arts from UNITEC. With a deep appreciation for his Tongan culture and language, Mosese has taught and facilitated creative workshops in areas of dance, music and drama. He aims to use these skills as a mechanism to inspire youth in both community and school environments. He is now completing a Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Primary).

Seteuati Tulafono-Nofoaiga, M.Ed, BA, Dip Ed, Lower Hutt, Victoria University



Tulafono-Nofoaiga is studying towards a Graduate Diploma of Teaching (Secondary) in New Zealand. He has worked as a translator and is a member of the New Zealand Translation and Interpretation Services. He studied at the National University of Samoa where he graduated with a Diploma in Education and a Bachelor of Arts (English). At Melbourne’s Victoria University, he gained a Master of Education. Upon graduation, Tulafono-Nofoaiga plans to teach at secondary level.


For more information go to: Kupe Scholarships.