“My first experience going to university, I was so nervous, I didn’t know where I was going for classes and I was so lost,” says Tutira.
She remembers she went into a few wrong classes until she eventually found the right ones and soon became used to her new environment.
Tutira has now completed her first year at Waikato University, studying a Bachelor of Design where she has touched on four different majors including Communication Design, Industrial Design, Interface Design, and Media Design.
In her second semester this year, she started to learn about game design, creating films and writing scripts.
“My family was really shocked when I told them what I wanted to study, they thought I was going to be a lawyer or a doctor,” she says.
For one of her assignments, she has incorporated the Mauke legend of Paikea into her film studies.
The legend of Paikea, she says, often refers to the whale rider film but there’s another side to the story.
In the Mauke legend it says that the beautiful Kea watched while her husband, Paikea fished beyond the reef but then he was swept away in a hurricane.
Tutira wants to extend the story of Kea, who died on Mauke, because she was too grief stricken to eat after her husband had disappeared.
“I wanted to use a story from my culture because I never see our legends told to a wider audience,” says Tutira.
In fact, Tutira’s uncle in Mauke had told her some of these legends and she had become very interested in them.
She’s also been doing game design involving virtual reality, something she has been exposed to living in the Cook Islands all her life, but it’s the advancements in technology that has caught her attention.
She laughs about it now, but when she attended Tereora College she was failing her media studies class! Once she started to understand more about the subject, she really took an interest in the class and began to excel.
Tutira has plans to become a film producer or a game designer. She is still deciding and has a few more years to go before she completes her degree.
She’s really proud to be pursuing something she is passionate about in the creative industry. However, she also realises that job opportunities that she will seek in the future, may not be available back home in Rarotonga.
“It’s so different living in Hamilton now, instead of swimming at the beach, I’m usually shopping,” says Tutira.
Over her semester breaks, Tutira always makes sure she comes to visit her family and enjoy the warm climate of Rarotonga.