Va‘atele for Success programme

Find out more about our Va‘atele programme to prepare social work and sport, health and physical education students for their years of study.

First year Social Work students at the 2018 Va‘atele for Success

Talofa. A warm welcome to the Va‘atele programme.

We’ll be welcoming first-year students in the Bachelor of Social Work and Bachelor of Sport, Health and Physical Education programmes to their study journey in a special way: aboard an imagined va‘atele canoe.

During the first week of Semester 1, new BSW and BSPHE students will attend the Va‘atele Folauga for Success programme, an intensive three-day orientation and induction programme.

Running for a second year, after a very successful launch in 2018, Va’atele aims to help students build crucial relationships with staff and their colleagues to support their learning and wellbeing.

The programme took inspiration from the Va‘atele metaphor and framework developed by Dr Rae Si`ilata, former Associate Dean Pasifika in her doctoral work, which relates to “the building, launching, maintenance, and sailing of the double-hulled deep-sea canoe (va‘atele in Samoan, ndrua in Fijian, tongiaki in Tongan, waka hourua in Te reo Māori)… The double hulls and the voyaging of the va‘atele/deep-sea canoe are compared with Pasifika students’ folauga or journey through university as bilingual/bicultural people. One hull represents the language, literacy and culture of home, while the second hull represents the language, literacy and culture of university. As with a va‘atele, both hulls/ va‘a (or languages, literacies, and cultures) should work in unity to ensure the safe passage of the people on board” (Siilata, 2014, p. 248; 250-251).

The programme is for all first year BSW and BSPHE students, from all backgrounds, not just those of Pacific heritage.

Va’atele was an amazing start to my Social Work degree. We all bonded very quickly as a group through this programme and it helped to create an incredible support system to move through our degree with.

Rachel Everall Bachelor of Social Work student

The degree will be challenging, but I’ve learnt we can lean onto each other in the cohort when we’re in need of help.

Losena Lama Vea Bachelor of Social Work student

The Va‘atele programme

The programme’s aims are to:
• Create a sense of whakawhanaungatanga and matakäinga between staff and students
• Establish a safe and inclusive learning environment
• Provide a holistic environment to care for the physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing of learners
• Build a sense of belonging to prepare students to be competent tertiary students
• Develop resilience and enhance confidence, institutional knowledge and capability in understanding the University context, and support systems and processes within the school and faculty
• Facilitate connections between students

Activities include:
• A whakawhanaungatanga process including a “where am I from?” icebreaker
• Trivia quiz
• Sessions on goal setting, family and time management
• Workshops on academic writing
• Introduction to the fields of study
• Workshops on academic skills including: critical thinking, reading academic articles, e management (Canvas, timetables, SSO, Turnitin), research and referencing, note taking skills
• Learning about support systems

When we started, we started strong.

Andy Kapeli Bachelor of Social Work student