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Hawke’s Bay Toloa scholar reeling from cyclone

Hawke’s Bay Toloa scholar reeling from cyclone

  • 11 Apr 2023
Iloara Faamausili

When Hawke’s Bay student Iloara Faamausili (pictured) got an email saying she was awarded a $2000 Toloa scholarship, she ran to her mother in a frantic state of jubilation.

This was in October of last year.

Little did she know that four months later, she and her community in Napier would be facing the aftermath of a cyclone that would devastate the entire Hawke’s Bay region.

Iloara, 15, is a Toloa Secondary Scholarship recipient from Napier Girls High School and the only recipient from Hawke’s Bay this year.

The Toloa programme is one of the Ministry for Pacific Peoples’ (MPP) flagship initiatives, which supports Pacific peoples in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) pathways, over a whole of life approach.  

Toloa Secondary Scholarships aim to inspire and support Pacific students in their engagement with STEAM.

The scholarship covers school fees for 2023 and/or a digital device (Chromebook or equivalent), with a combined total of up to $2000.

Toloa has expanded its reach to include arts as a creative and innovative skill, processes and knowledge that are transferable into science, technology, engineering, and maths careers.

Iloara’s mum Seepa says her daughter was prepared to attend the scholarship ceremony earlier this month, but they were left to deal with the aftermath of the cyclone.

Napier and surrounding suburbs were among the worst hit areas after Cyclone Gabrielle wreaked havoc on the Hawke’s Bay and Tairawhiti regions.

The Napier suburb of Taradale – where Iloara and her family live – was significantly affected, including areas around the Eastern Institute of Technology, which went underwater, and the nearby suburb of Waiohiki.

Iloara’s mum Seepa says thankfully they live in a part of Taradale that did not flood.

“We are truly thankful as a family that we weren’t affected as much as others… our hearts go out to our community,” Seepa says.

“Although there was no flooding around our property, we were without power for six days… it was all good.

“We had food, a barbeque that allowed us to do cooking, we enjoyed each other’s company, and we used candles at night.

“As a family, we are thankful that Iloara was able to receive the support she did from the Toloa scholarship.

“Every bit counts, and now, we don’t have to worry too much about any costs at school.”

Seepa adds the scholarship could help Iloara, as she considers future career and education pathways.

“She (Iloara) has been thinking about following in her dad’s footsteps; he works in the civil engineering industry,” Seepa says. 

Visit the MPP website for more information on Toloa.