Embracing diversity and staying motivated

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By Itinterunga Rae Bainteiti
Degree: Bachelor of Social Work
Campus: Auckland

“When you decide to go to Uni, come to Massey”, these were the words of Massey’s renowned photographer and educator late Professor Tony Whincup in 2007 when I first met him.

Tony has been instrumental in photographing our islands for four decades and has a rich collection of photographic documentation of our people and culture. His life revolved around Kiribati and many admired him for staging to the world our culture and heritage. I was still finishing high school then but his words encapsulated my inspiration to come to Massey last year July as a starting student doing Bachelor of Social Work. I met Tony through my mother who had worked for Tobaraoi Travel, a well-known travel agency in Kiribati. She was privileged to have worked with Tony as his tour guide and interpreter visiting the outer islands to study and photograph the ‘maneaba’ – a traditional meeting house that is close to the hearts of all I-Kiribati people.

Coming to Massey University was an unregretful decision. I have always believed that through Tony (a Massey professor), a country so small and remote in the South Pacific and its peoples will always find Massey home through his work. Mom is grateful that I made the decision to choose Massey among other outstanding Universities in New Zealand.

I felt that Massey was like a ‘maneaba’ for me in New Zealand. Its big modern buildings somehow reflected the concept of my ideal traditional maneaba that is welcoming and accommodating.

The vibrant and diverse Massey communities from all the world all unite under Massey supporting one another making me less homesick and more school focused. The lecturers, tutors, NZ Aid officers, Pasifika staffs and campus staffs at all levels are very friendly and approachable. They are always there to guide and offer help. They were my families.

The community at Massey was an ideal blend of peoples I would imagine myself sipping a cup of tea with, enjoying the breeze, relaxing and chatting away in a ‘maneaba’ near the lagoon. Their professionalism match our values, level of respect and expectations for everyone in our communities and embraces everyone regardless of they are!

Thus, far, my only regret is not being able to say hello to Tony in person. He would have been very happy to see me living to his advice when we first met. May he Rest in Peace.

What keeps me motivated to study?

  1. Coming to Massey was a rare opportunity for someone coming from the Pacific. Everyone can go to school but there is limited funding hence a competitive scholarship. While I have this one opportunity, and thousands of dollars invested in my study by the people of New Zealand; I have thousands of reasons to finish it to thank my sponsors
  2. Contribute to the social and economic development of my country towards completion of study
  3. Family, Church, and Community expectations, and for Tony!

Kiribati’s blessings of Te Mauri (Health), Te Raoi (Peace) ao te Tabomoa (Prosperity)

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