She was one of four Year 11 students from Penrhyn who were granted a Ministry of Education Pa Enua Secondary School Student Scholarship to finish their schooling at Tereora College.
Despite feeling sad to leave her parents and family and the only island home she had ever known, Taka had wisdom beyond her years to know this was a move bigger than herself.
“I thought about how lucky I was to be able to have this opportunity, how grateful I was to the Education Ministry for giving me funds for my schooling and what I needed and how proud I wanted to make my parents, my family, my island and my people,” she said.
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Now aged 18, Taka was last year named Pa Enua Student of the Year at Tereora College. She is yet to receive her full NCEA Level 3 results, but she achieved 79 credits across her subjects, English, maths, Cook Islands Maori, dance and fashion, with Excellence Endorsement in Maori.
But the next part of her journey has only just begun. Taka has applied and been accepted to study towards a Bachelor of Education degree at the University of the South Pacific’s Cook Islands campus, starting next month.
Her parents have moved to Rarotonga and will support her while she pursues her Teacher’s Degree and her dream to become a primary school teacher.
While she’s been able to secure another Ministry of Education scholarship and her dad works fulltime to fund her studies, Taka believes a student loan scheme would encourage more local students to study at home and stay at home – while using their qualifications the good of Cook Islands.
Moving overseas is daunting and this scheme would provide the financial means for young people not as fortunate as her to pursue their education dreams.
“I’m going to be the first one from my family to go this far with my education,” she said.
“I’m doing this for them, my people, my island and my country.”