Using personal success to inspire others

posted: 11:55 am - 9th March 2018

Being the first individual in his family to attend university is something Lukan Paitai-Tuiatua (pictured) is embracing and using to inspire his younger siblings and cousins. 

While attending university is an achievement in itself, Lukan is one of the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) 13 Toloa Tertiary Scholarship recipients for 2018. 

“The award means so much to me and my family … I can use my success to act as hopefully a role model and a positive influence,” says the Kings College Former Head of House, Head of School Cultural Activities and Senior Prefect.    

Of Cook Islands and Samoan descent, Lukan is a keen representative player in various sports, and a volunteer at the Otahuhu Primary Literacy Programme. 

The all-rounder says he has always been intrigued with how the world works and functions and how things like cities are structured.

 He has also always enjoyed the sciences at school, which has ultimately led to his interest in engineering – along with observing his father and grandfather at work, who Lukan explains, are both engineers in their own respective areas. 

This year, Lukan has started a Bachelor of Engineering at the University of Auckland, with the goal of becoming a Civil Engineer. 

With the Government’s fees free policy for the first year of tertiary study, along with the Toloa Scholarship, which will assist Lukan throughout his degree, the financial burden of study has been eased, something which Lukan and his family are extremely grateful for. 

The Toloa Tertiary Scholarships is aimed at encouraging Pacific students to pursue studies in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects at tertiary level, to increase the numbers of Pacific people employed into STEM careers.

With the world constantly evolving and growing, Lukan says the need for people in the STEM industries is large.

“Although the number of Pacific people in these areas is increasing, we are still a minority, and it is a great time now for our people to see the opportunities within STEM industries and make the most of them.”

Following his degree, Lukan has aspirations of using his acquired skills to give back to his Pacific heritage, by contributing to the structural development in Pacific countries. 

“I would also like to go back to my former schools or schools around South Auckland and reach out to students and let them know about the great opportunities they can have in life if they’re willing to work hard.” 

Visit Toloa Scholarships for more information about this initiative.