Authentic partnerships for quality outcomes: a view from the Pacific.

Tim  Baice1, Ms Rebekah Williams1, Elisabeth Kumaran1

1The University of Auckland, Faculty of Education and Social Work, Auckland, New Zealand


Significant concerns over Pasifika student success and retention in the Bachelor of Social Work at the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Education and Social Work led to the development of Va`atele: Foulaga for success.

The programme evolved to include all first-year students in the BSW as part of an effort to strengthen capacity across the first-year cohort. This initial phase focused on connecting and building relationships via a three-day intensive socialisation and engagement programme to replace the first week of lectures.

The programme took inspiration from Dr Rae Si`ilata’s (2014) Va‘atele Model. “The ocean voyaging of our Pasifika ancestors, or their folauga – their ‘navigational journeying’ – is symbolic of Pasifika people’s successful advancement through life” ((Si‘ilata, 2014, p. 248). The double hulls of the va‘atele symbolise the academic journey students undertake at university as bilingual/bicultural people. One hull may be seen to represent the language, literacy, culture, and worldview of home, while the second hull is representative of the language, literacy, culture and worldview of university. In order for students to be successful in the multiple worlds they walk in – they need to strengthen and build capacity and capability in both (Si‘ilata, 2014).

The programme is underpinned by a strong commitment to partnerships between academic, professional, Māori and Pasifika staff and students.

Initial outcomes have shown increased levels of cohort engagement and success within internal assessments. The overall success of the programme will be measured at the end of Semester 2 2018 with both qualitative and quantitative data.


Tim Baice is an Academic Coordinator for Pasifika Success at the Faculty of Education and Social Work, at the University of Auckland. He is also a Tutor in the School of Critical Studies in Education (CRISTIE) currently teaching in EDUC 118 and EDUC 321. His work is centred on the provision of academic and pastoral support for undergraduate and post graduate Pasifika Students, as well advising the Faculty on issues of participation, retention and completion for Pasifika students through the Associate Dean Pasifika. Tim’s research background is in Development Studies with a particular focus on Pacific Youth, including Youth Agency in the Pacific, leadership and youth advocacy.

Elisabeth Kumaran is an alumni of the University of Auckland in the field of Visual Arts.  In 2015, she joined the University as a Student Academic Adviser Pasifika at the Faculty of Education and Social Work.
She assists students with the application and enrolment process for Undergraduate programmes at the Faculty, degree planning and student recruitment.
She is the lead co-ordinator for the UTAS (Undergraduate Targeted Admissions Scheme) cohort.  She widely promotes each Pacific language week increase awareness of Pacific identity and a sense of belonging for all staff and students.
She is one of the co-founders of the ManaRewa Arts Collective which is an Arts group that formed in 2016 and is based in the suburb of Manurewa.  ManaRewa Arts Collective helps to grow and develop emerging Maori and Pacific visual artists.
She is passionate about seeing Pasifika students succeed and become great role models in their communities.

Rebekah Williams is the Student Experience and Engagement Team Leader at the Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Auckland.  Prior to working in student engagement Rebekah worked in the Equity Office at the University of Auckland for 14 years, with a focus on Students with Disabilities.  She is a 2014 Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellow.


The Australian and New Zealand Student Services Association Inc. (ANZSSA) is a professional association for people with an interest in the role of support services in post secondary education. We are focused on: The quality of the student experience Supporting and empowering students to achieve their educational and life goals Enhancing student wellbeing and development Improving student success and persistence Providing outreach to students at-risk Raising institutional student retention rates For more information, please visit the ANZSSA website at

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