David Qaranivalu came to New Zealand from Fiji to complete his last two years of high school at Wesley College.
As a rugby-mad teenager, he had high hopes of pursuing a career in rugby. In his first year at high school in New Zealand, David won the National Secondary School Championship. In year 13, his final year, he received an education scholarship. Then he was awarded an Otago Rugby scholarship that funded his tuition and boarding fees at the University of Otago. David’s parents also supported him throughout his studies.
What David did not expect was to go down the path of academia completing a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Human Geography with a minor in Pacific Studies.
“I did a lot of research methodology papers in my final year which generated an interest in research.”
As a graduate, David moved to Auckland and became involved in the Pacific Island Families (PIF) study. He has worked in different areas within the study and is now a research officer.
David is working on a sub-study that focuses on ‘Building Successful Families’ that analyses the meaning of success in the context of three different subheadings: aspirations and education, socioeconomic standards, and social connectedness.
“We gain insight from parents of participants to find out what they think being successful looks like,” says David, “This is a very interesting study for me as every culture is different.
“My role involves engagement with participants from the study, hearing their stories through focus groups and then translating those stories into academic writing.”
David’s aim is to develop professionally and grow within the study. He sees this research as an opportunity for empowerment.
“I tell the parents of the participants: When you share your information and knowledge with us and talk about your experiences, it is empowering. It is empowering Pacific people to be more vocal in our communities and societies.”
David believes that because of his own experiences and upbringing, his resilience helps to drive not only his success, but puts him in a position to help others.
David is motivated every day by his own family and his family back home, for all that they sacrificed in supporting him through his studies in New Zealand.
“What motivates me is God, my family and just having good people around me.”