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Special graduation for Tokelauan family

02 June 2017

Posted in: Pacific Radio News,

A special father-and-daughter graduation took place last month for a Tokelauan family in Wellington.

Long-serving teacher, John Puka graduated with a Master of Secondary School Leadership and his daughter Melanie Puka graduated with a double degree in Law and Arts, majoring in Development Studies.

Father John Puka and daughter Melanie Puka shared their graduation ceremony. Photo/ Supplied.

Melanie says it was a very special milestone for their family. 

"To be able to share it with Dad meant that all the hard work that we've both put in together, we got to share that moment together," she says. "We also got to share it with our wider family which is really important because they were a huge part of it."

Mr Puka and his wife moved to New Zealand from Tokelau in the 1970s.

“We know Melanie’s success is a measure of the care, support and prayers of a ‘whole village’, made of family, friends and her teachers," says Mr Puka.

He says he's very proud of his daughter and looks forward to his son graduating. 

“It will be kind of special for our little family of four as university graduates considering the humble origins of my wife and I, being born in a thatched fale in Tokelau.”

Twenty-three-year-old Miss Puka, says cultural values played a big role in their educational journey.

"It's the philosophy behind how we learn and collective success," she says. 

"We were always taught from a very young age that you don't ever do anything by yourself, or simply just for yourself."

She's now working towards a Master's degree.

Tags: Tokelau, John Puka, Melanie Puka,