Pacific Peoples in Tertiary Education in Aotearoa New Zealand




Pacific Education, Māori Values


Even though Pacific peoples in tertiary education in Aotearoa New Zealand strive to achieve milestones which bring honour and prestige to their families and communities in New Zealand and the Pacific, socio-economic factors still hinder many from achieving their set goals. This article begins by relating the author’s own narrative as a Sāmoan living in the Pacific diaspora and working in tertiary education in Auckland. It then outlines the diverse aspirations of Pacific peoples living in New Zealand, with a focus on the educational hopes of recent migrants as well as New Zealand-born members of Pacific communities. These aspirations are presented with reference to the existing literature on Pacific success within tertiary education in Aotearoa New Zealand. We discuss how education providers support Pacific students, and the ways in which institutions are working to improve Pacific educational outcomes. It is argued that even if the New Zealand Tertiary Education Strategy (TES), the Action Plan for Pacific Education 2020- 2030 (APPE), and Unitec's Pacific Success Strategy 2019- 2022 are aligned in their goals, more effort is needed to ensure that these initiatives are implemented effectively through multi-disciplinary and value-based approaches. This article adds value by providing an insider’s perspective of migration and a first-hand account of the challenges facing students in higher education in Aotearoa New Zealand. Moreover, the analysis contributes to the repertoire of academic studies and publications that help to understand and improve the Pacific experience in tertiary education in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Author Biography

Daisy Bentley-Gray, Unitec Institute of Technology, Aotearoa New Zealand


Daisy is a Pacific Learning Advisor at Unitec. She was born and raised in S`āmoa and has more than 20 years of experience in Secondary School and Tertiary education in Sāmoa and New Zealand. Daisy has been in tertiary education in New Zealand since migrating with her husband and children in 2009. She has fulfilled various roles that support Pacific learners and contribute to Pacific success.

In her current role, Daisy supports Pacific and non-Pacific learners through various approaches, including delivering academic literacy, study skills, and Pacific-focused workshops. Also, she is currently the Pacific representative in the Unitec Research Committee and Lead of our Pacific Research Fono, which allows her to support and promote Pacific research amongst Pacific staff. 

Personal statement 

Talofa Lava, I was born and raised in Samoa with ancestry connections to Solosolo, Fa’atoia, Vaiala, Faleata, Sagone and Salelavalu. I love spending time with my family, especially my husband and five children.  The values of respect, humility, loyalty, and love  are fundamental to me in all aspects of my life. In all that I do, I “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3: 5-6).




How to Cite

Bentley-Gray, D. . (2022). Pacific Peoples in Tertiary Education in Aotearoa New Zealand. Ekistics and The New Habitat, 81(3), 55–60.