This year, six Papuan provincial government scholarship recipients have graduated from several universities in New Zealand. About 160 Papuans are currently studying in New Zealand.
Marius Elabi graduated with Master of International Relationship and Security Studies from Waikato University on December 8, and Anggie Freesia Maritje Kapisa with a Bachelor of Science major in microbiology and Stephanie Verneytha Dike with a Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition from Otago University on December 16.
Fredy Nawalyn with a Bachelor of International Business Management, Erli Enambere with a Bachelor of Contemporary International Studies and Prisilia Samori with a NZ Diploma in Tourism and Travel also graduated from the Institute of the Pacific United New Zealand on December 18.
Kapisa, who is the first child of her family to achieve education overseas said she was so humble and grateful to set an example for her younger sisters. Kapisa said that she was so grateful to have a Pacific community at Otago University, so her West Papuan friends who were studying in New Zealand could come and celebrate the graduation together.
“I am so grateful to have my Pacific community here and West Papuan friends because my family could not attend my graduation,” said Kapisa.
Stephanie Verneytha Dike, who also graduated from Otago University, said she was extremely grateful to all the lecturers and academic supports staff who had helped her during her study. She said she was so grateful to the government of Papua province and particularly Governor Enembe for granting her the scholarship to study in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Being an international student and studying overseas in a new environment and social life was always challenging, Dike said.
“The challenges came from various factors, from education, the life like socialisation, and living far away from family – but the biggest challenge was competition in class,” she said.
“We have to pass the paper because we have the scholarship from the government, and we don’t want to waste the chance that the [Papua provincial] government has provided for us.
Marius Elabi, who graduated from Waikato University, said that getting an opportunity to obtain knowledge from one of the universities in New Zealand was a fulfillment of his dream. He said students needed to be grateful for the current provincial government’s programme to send students to pursue education in developed countries like New Zealand.
Elabi left his wife and children in West Papua and said it is really hard to be a student when you have got a family. But he was grateful to have a supportive family.
“I am so fortunate to have such a great wife and beautiful children who always get my back. My wife is a civil servant, but she is a great woman like other Melanesian and Pacific women,” he said.
“We West Papuans are capable to compete with other students here in New Zealand and in other countries, but we don’t have much opportunity,” said Elabi.
He said the challenges were similar to what Kapisa and Dike experienced, but one other issue that challenged him throughout his study was “family burdens”. In order to be able to provide needs for his family back in West Papua, he did part time work as a cleaner and fruit picker.
“Even though I have to study and complete my thesis, I spent a couple of hours to do cleaning,” he said.
Kapisa, Dike and Elabi said that they hoped the government of Papua province would send more Papuan students to New Zealand so that they could have a chance to know their brothers and sisters in the Pacific from New Zealand.