Semester Two kicked off last week in the usual fashion as OGGB and the Engineering Building became a bustle with keen students signing up to the various clubs, societies, and associations on offer at the bi-annual Clubs Expo.
University clubs have always been known to be a useful way for students to make new friends and connections. In some cases, they have also been crucial in helping students excel academically and engage with their culture. This is particularly true for Pasifika-student led clubs who have a focus on fostering academic success and cultural pride.
Among the 200+ clubs at the University, you have the long-standing Pasifika cultural clubs such as the Tongan Students’ Association (Taua Pe Foki), Fijian Students’ Association, and the Samoan Students’ Association (UASSA), to name a few.
Dray Va’ai, Secretary of UASSA, noted that Pasifika students “find it hard to transition [into university] and ask for help.” Va’ai recognised that such cultural clubs can act as a “bridge” for Pasifika students to receive the pastoral and academic support they need, as well as allowing them to “find a palpable place to fit in”.
Notably, the Village Arts Association (VA’A), a newly established club for Pasifika students in the Arts and Global Studies faculties made its second appearance at the Club Expo this year.
VA’A’s co-founder, Tristan Ah-Sui, told Taumata Rau that before 2021 there were no Pasifika-led clubs or associations for Arts, Communications, and Global Studies students despite such faculties having the highest enrolment of Pasifika students in the University: “VA’A was established to fill this gap”, Ah-Sui says.
VA’A now seeks to facilitate engagement and connection among Pasifika students through various student-led events such as study wānanga, poetry workshops, and social activities.
With all these new clubs forming there seems to be a place for everyone to form meaningful connections at the University. Ah-Sui advised, “Don’t be shy…find your group of people who will help you thrive and succeed.”