Unitec staff talk Maori and Pasifika Family Day

Unitec, New Zealand’s largest institute of technology, is renewing its commitment to Maori and Pacific students with a Family Whanau / Fanau Day on October 27th in their Te Puna building at their Mt Albert Campus. An opportunity to see what Unitec has to offer, the day will be filled with Maori and Pasifika entertainment with child friendly activities and food stalls. Meet the staff committed to making Unitec a place for Pacific and Maori development



Falaniko Tominiko

Director of Pacific Success


Samoan-born Falaniko Tominiko moved to New Zealand with his family at the tender age of four. His parents, who hail from the villages of Lotofaga, Aleisa and the city of Apia, wanted more opportunities for their children.


“At the time my parents felt that New Zealand offered better chances and opportunities. For that, I’m always grateful for my mum and dad.”


Having been afforded the opportunities he has, Falaniko says discovering Pacific studies allowed him to take his passion for his Samoan culture and extend it to other cultures of the Pacific.


Upon attaining his PhD in Pacific Studies from the University of Auckland, Falaniko now finds himself at Unitec being able to put his passion to work as Director of Pacific Success. 


“My main role is to ensure that Unitec as an institution commits to supporting and ensuring that all of our Pacific students succeed in their studies.


“We’ve got a Unitec Pacific Success Strategy, which starts this year 2018 to 2023. As the driver of that Pacific Success Strategy here at Unitec I oversee the institution’s commitment to supporting all Pacific students.”


It’s important for Falaniko that Pacific students feel supported not just by the amazing Pacific and Māori staff, but by all staff.


“It’s every staff member’s responsibility to support both Pacific and Māori students.”

Falaniko wants students to know that Unitec’s various departments and disciplines have staff members who have Pacific specific support roles, and that overall the institution is striving to do its part for Pacific.


“We have our Fono Faufautua, a Pacific advisory board made up of community leaders. They are very instrumental to Unitec’s commitment to Pacific because they’re like the watchdogs.


"They give us advice, recommendations and feedback on how we’re supporting our Pacific.”


Meet Falaniko and other Pacific staff at Unitec’s Fanau Day:


“The 27th of October event is a family day where we want our West Auckland and our Central Auckland Māori and Pacific communities to come onto the Unitec campus and feel like Unitec is a place where Family is important.


“We want to show the community that as an institution we’ve got a lot of Māori and Pacific staff working at Unitec, and that a lot of our Māori and Pacific staff were once students themselves.


“It’s going to be so much fun with Pacific and Māori flavour, we have entertainment for kids, island food, Māori food, it’s kind of a mini-mini Pasifika- but where we showcase what Unitec has to offer future Pacific students in terms of a future via our various courses.”


Glenn McKay

Tumu Tauwhirowhiro Māori & Executive Director for Student Success


For Rotorua born-and-bred Glenn McKay, of Te Aroha Iwi, education came to him late in life.


“I got introduced to education when I was working for the NZ Police,” recalls Glenn, “by way of introduction to Unitec with Linda Aumua”.


Glenn worked on and supported the Police Preparation Programme at Unitec before being asked to take the programme to another service provider.


“I worked with Te Wānanga o Aotearoa in Manukau, South Auckland closely for a year to get it established. Then I took up the opportunity to be seconded there, where I took the programme to the main centres.”


His experiences with Unitec and TWOA allowed him to see the value of education and what it can do to people who have access to it.


“My own experience in education wasn’t a good one at first,” he recalls. But at those institutions, I truly understood it. I got to see how powerful education really can be in the transformation of people’s lives, as well as the community’s.”


Having completed his MBA, it wasn’t long before he found himself back at Unitec.


“I was initially contracted to set up the online Police programme, but while I was here they were looking for someone to step into an executive role.”


Glenn saw it as an opportunity to be part of the renewal of Unitec’s commitment to being a tertiary institution that supports the aspirations and needs of its Māori and Pacific students.


He was appointed Executive Director of Student Success in February 2018.



“Ultimately, a big part of my role is around Māori success in the institution, it’s about strengthening the relationships that we have with Māori individuals, families and communities.”


The rest of his role is dedicated to ensuring the success of all students at Unitec. What that looks like, according to Glenn, varies from student to student.


“My experience has taught me that success looks different for every individual that walks through our door. We need to value that,” he says.


“In fact, we need to value every person that walks through this door,” he adds, saying success at Unitec involves being able to help every one of those individuals get to where they see themselves being successful.


“And that’s what Unitec offers Pacific and Māori students,” says the former Police Officer, “an embedded understanding of our respective cultures”.


“We do things that are more culturally aligned to both groups, and we honour and adhere to our cultural responsibilities at Unitec.”


Meet Glenn McKay at Unitec’s Whānau Day:


“Our Whānau day is about us being able to service the needs of our Māori and Pacific families and individuals,” he says.


“Relationships and connections are vitally important, so rather than asking people to enrol online or come through a process that’s a little foreign to us, we’ll have our Māori and Pacific staff here to welcome and greet people on the day and take them through the enrolment process.


“We’re connecting with them and building a relationship as we enrol them, so that we can better support them when they come through, whether they’re looking to enrol or just getting to know who Unitec are and what we offer.” 



For more information about what Unitec offers go to: www.unitec.ac.nz


And come along to their Whanau/Fanau Day on October 27th at the Mt Albert Campus: