Samoan descent student tops N.Z. college

By Marc Membrere 27 November 2021, 11:57PM

Reece Talopau, a student of Samoan and Niuean descent, is the dux of Tauranga Boys' College in New Zealand and became the first of Pasifika descent to academically top the college. 

The 17-year old who was born in New Zealand became the school's first student of Pacific descent to earn the honour of becoming the dux of the college according to a statement released by the New Zealand Ministry of Pacific Peoples.

He had achieved an A+ in all four papers he took including Calculus, Physics, Chemistry and Statistics.

The Tauranga Boys’ College has around 2,000 students and only around 5 per cent of the student population identify as Pasifika," reads the statement.

“So becoming dux at Tauranga Boys’ College is a huge achievement not only for me, but also for my family, friends and my Pacific community.”

Born and raised in Henderson, West Auckland, Reece is the youngest of three children in the Talopau household. In mid-2016, his family moved to Tauranga, and Reece attended Tauranga Intermediate, before heading to Tauranga Boys’ College. 

According to the Ministry's statement, his family was not able to attend his prize giving due to COVID-19 restrictions, but he was humbled by the support he received from his Pasifika brothers and peers at the college.

“The online learning of the university papers I took was tricky to navigate… plus I was also working part-time as a maths tutor at NumberWorks’nWords so I had to learn to balance my work and studies," he said.

Reece will be attending the University of Auckland to study Mechanical Engineering, saying in a statement that he has always excelled in science subjects such as Maths, Chemistry and Physics and his ultimate aim is to pursue a career in the aerospace and space engineering sector.

According to the statement, he hopes his achievements will inspire Pacific youth to also aim high and not allow stereotypes associated with being Pacific define who they are.

“If I can do it, they can do it too - pursuing a career in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) field, I hope to encourage more interest from our younger generation towards these high earning jobs, and change the narrative so often associated with being Pacific and academic achievement and employment," he said.


By Marc Membrere 27 November 2021, 11:57PM
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