Waikato Journal of Education
Journal cover


Cook Islands students
Tertiary education
Language difficulty
Cultural barriers


The following pe'e (chant) from Mangaia speaks to me from Avaiki. I have chosen it to express the journey of my education, and also that of other Cook Islands students studying at the University of Waikato. Most of us leave our beloved family, our village, our island, to study overseas for better opportunities in New Zealand and other parts of the world. Our supporters include our parents back home, the Cook Islands government, the people we meet, our friends, our mentors, our families here in New Zealand and ourselves. This pe'e is about learning new skills, furthering our knowledge and developing our own beliefs to help us navigate our way through the challenges of life. Our journey connects us with our ancestors who learned all the skills of navigation as they traveled from one destination to another across Te Moana Nui o Kiva (Pacific Ocean). The journey of my ancestors is rooted in mythology, in history, in memories and in shared experiences. Their journey is not just travel. It embodies new ways of thinking and new ways of learning. I think the journey of Cook Islands students at the University of Waikato is history repeating itself, mirroring the journey when we arrived here with so much excitement and fear of the unknown. This article describes some of the challenges and the opportunities discovered on the path that these students have pursued

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