Open main menu Close main menu


Celebrations brings Unitec Whānau together

  • Graduation 2024

Graduation week at Unitec - Te Whare Wānanga o Wairaka has been alive with activities and celebrations that brought together our community in meaningful ways. Firstly, the Pacific celebration, then Kahurangi, followed by the Autumn 2024 Graduation ceremony at the Aotea Centre where 786 proud ākonga crossed the stage, with a total of 1,517 graduating overall.

Unitec graduates share stories of their journey

Throughout the week, friends, family, and faculty came together to support and celebrate the graduates' years of dedication and hard work. Many of this year’s cohort started their academic journey amid the uncertainties of the Covid pandemic and they told powerful stories of resilience, with many shared tears and laughter. Their korero highlighted the strong sense of community at Unitec, with a common thread of deep gratitude for the support from their peers, lecturers, and family.

During the ceremonies, three invited alumni shared their insights and experiences with the graduates.

Genevieve Sang-Yum, now a lecturer and graduate from the School of Social Practice and Healthcare, spoke about her journey from ākonga to educator at Unitec.

 "I started with a Certificate in Community Skills, which sparked my passion for making a difference," Genevieve said.

 "Returning to Unitec as a lecturer has allowed me to give back and support others on their paths, emphasising that education is not just about acquiring skills but about fostering empowerment and social change."

Jon Davies, a Master of Architecture graduate, focused on the value of support systems and actionable knowledge.

 "Someone kept you in the boat, and now it's your turn to keep others afloat," Jon told the new graduates.  "Combine your knowledge with action, and you will gain experience that extends beyond academic achievement."

Tash Nansen, a Project Manager at KiwiRail and a successful Pasific wahine, discussed overcoming challenges in a professional setting.

 "Throughout my career, I often felt like the only Pasifika woman in the room. Despite the 'imposter syndrome,' I never let it deter me," Tash declared. "Throw out the imposter syndrome and seize every opportunity to learn and grow. You deserve your seat at the table, and hard work and resilience will always be your best advocates."

The week also saw a number of special awards for Unitec ākonga. Four Bachelor of Nursing recipients were awarded scholarships from the Procare Health group for Top Pacific and Maori nurses; Katherine Matoto and Jessily Sgedin, and Geranium Taavale (Ngāpuhi) and Coreen Awheto (Te Aupouri, Tainui, Ngati Makino) respectively.

In the School of Computing, Randall Ratana (Ngāti Whakue, Te Rarawa, Ngaouhi) was awarded a Doctor of Computing, for his thesis  "Automated Natural Language Processing for the Diagnosis of Schizophrenia and Psychosis in Māori People". 
Randall's thesis studied the application of natural language processing to improve the detection of signs of schizophrenia and psychosis in Māori patients based on language dysfunction

Executive Director Rohe 1 Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga said the week showed us the best of our communities as they gathered to celebrate the achievements of akonga (learners). 

"There was a vibrancy and colour to the ceremonies, which was shown through ceremonial dress, songs and haka as well as the sheer joy and excitement of graduates, their whanau and friends.  The celebrations also showed clearly our strong Unitec values and especially that of mahi kothahitanga (cooperation). "