From UniBound student to mentor and beyond

Kesaia Tapueluelu, photo by Godfrey Boehnke



The University of Auckland’s UniBound (Certificate in Academic Preparation) programme prepares Pacific and Māori school leavers for study and gives them a head start at University. We caught up with Kesaia Tapueluelu, UniBound’s first student to graduate from the University of Auckland. Now studying towards a postgraduate degree in Theology, she’s inspired to work in the South Auckland community with Pacific youth.



What led you to the UniBound programme and a degree at the University of Auckland?


Not going to university was not an option for me. Having a gap year was an absurd idea to my parents and they pushed me to study and I was fortunate to have a huge amount of support from them. I applied to the University of Auckland for two programmes, a Bachelor of Nursing and a Bachelor of Theology. Nursing was plan A, and Theology was plan B. I already had a feeling I wasn’t going to get into nursing – and to be honest, I don’t think my passion was as strong for Nursing as it was for Theology. Due to a lack of entry points, I didn’t get into Nursing, but UniBound came to the rescue and offered me an alternative way to get in. I took on the Science pathway to make my way into Nursing. However, when I got an offer from Theology, I was overwhelmed with joy and accepted my offer immediately. I finished off summer school on the UniBound programme and trotted into Semester One with a huge wealth of knowledge about the campus and a head start on University life.



How did UniBound help prepare you for your undergraduate degree at the University of Auckland?


UniBound was an awesome foot-in-the-door opportunity. The reason I say this is because the programme geared me up for my first semester. By the time I started my degree, I knew what it was like to be in lectures and how to navigate within the University. I knew how to get around the University and who to go to for different purposes. It was also an awesome way to make friends on campus.



What did you gain from your undergraduate experience at the University of Auckland?


My undergraduate degree in Theology was really flexible, and I loved it. I could play on my interests and incorporate them into my degree. I included some papers in Music, Pacific Studies and Anthropology. I grew as a student and have become very passionate about my studies. That passion has now taken me into a postgraduate degree. Considering the status the University of Auckland holds, it was a dream to study and be a part of an institution of amazing people.



Tell us a bit about your current mentoring work with UniBound students.


Going through the programme, I had a cool mentor who did his best to teach me all he knew about the University. Now that I’m a mentor on the programme, I can do the same with those coming through it. I love building relationships with the new students and helping them to feel a part of the University. If I can alleviate the someti

mes daunting feeling of transitioning from high school to University, I think, as a mentor, I’ve done my job. I love being a mentor because I get to impart my knowledge and empower the students to do the best they can. It’s been an absolute privilege to be a part of UniBound, and I’ve been graced with multiple opportunities because of this programme.   

Find out more about the UniBound programme and how you can apply at 




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