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Teariki Fanovaha is flying high

Thursday January 03, 2013 Written by Published in Technology

Discovering how planes work and what tools are needed to fix them was the highlight of Teariki Fanovaha’s first semester at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology.

The 20-year-old famously looked to sell his livestock to raise funds to attend NMIT to study aeronautical engineering.

While he was unable to find any buyers, the sole Cook Islander in the 40-strong course was able to attend the course by receiving a student loan and student allowance from Studylink, a government-run agency.

Staying with his grandfather Anautoa Rangatira Teariki Rauru, Fanovaha says his first taste of the course “has just been awesome”.

“It’s just too good – especially when you’re the only one from the islands,” says Fanovaha.

The semester covered basic engineering and an understanding of how planes work.

With the basics down, Fanovaha will spend 2013 learning how to repair the wheels, undercarriage and other parts of a plane.

The four year diploma involves two years of study and two years of working in the industry.

While last year saw him learn some arduous processes, filing slabs of metal is something he describes as “any engineer’s worst nightmare” – the student says he is loving every minute of it.

The enthusiasm is certainly showing in his assessments.

Fanovaha secured an 81 percent pass rate overall in his first semester at NMIT.

“I’m pretty proud of it.”

He enjoys operating the lathe machine – a machine used to sand, cut and drill materials.

It is one of a number of highlights for Fanovaha, who started out wanting to become a pilot and now dreams of becoming an aeronautical engineer.

“I wanted to be a pilot but I thought I’d try something different.

“I can’t get enough – I’m loving every bit of it.”

As for the livestock, Fanovaha slaughtered Buddy the bull for his grandmother’s funeral last year, but insists the three cattle are still for sale.

Anyone interested in purchasing the livestock to help Fanovaha pay his course fees can contact him on 24398 before he leaves in early February.

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