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Joy Tufuga

MPTT Recipient and Construction Student

A photograph of UCOL student Joy Tufuga

Joy Tufuga is the definition of resilience; with a positive attitude, commitment to her studies and a strong foundation in family values.  Joy began her studies in early 2018 at the UCOL’s campus in Horowhenua completing her New Zealand Certificate in Construction Trade Skills studies and has thrived.

Joy is one of a few students who received Māori Pasifika Trades Training support this year. MPTT is a ‘Fees-Free’ initiative focussed on training eligible Māori and Pasifika students for careers in key trades.  

“I chose the course before I found out about MPTT. Without MPTT and the support of Kelly Johnston, I don’t think I could have got through the whole course, they’ve supported me the whole way.” 

“I moved here seven years ago from Samoa where I was born and raised. I moved here to look after my family and my dream would be to build my own house, and build a house back in Samoa.” 

“When I was little I wanted to be a nurse and maybe become a doctor. But this year I saw that we paid three builders to come in and do our renovations which still haven’t been finished, that got me thinking maybe I could finish that off myself. I have now done the floors, and the painting.”

With only five days left to go on her course, Joy has already been offered an apprenticeship with a local Horowhenua company, TSP Construction. Joy is excited to have this opportunity, and says that her UCOL class has become like her family, a place that she will miss and support she will always be grateful for. 

When asked what her goals for the future are, Joy says “To help my family would be the ultimate goal. I’ll be the first one in my family to work in construction. One day I might go on to train someone else someday and help lead the way.”  

Joy is a role model to other students, as someone who sees every obstacle as a chance to grow, whether it be being a female in an often male-dominated field or personal-life struggles. Her lecturer Lee Thompson is proud of the work Joy has done and the leadership skills she displays. “She’s shown up most of the class. She’s still the best at swinging a hammer out of all of them.” 



“We started building the house in April and have just about finished now. Weatherboard and making frames are my favourite part.” Joy says about her course. 

When asked what her advice would be to any student looking at studying construction or taking part in any MPTT support, her advice comes from the heart: 

“My mum passed away last year. It breaks me, but I had to keep going for my family. I’m doing the course and looking after my grandmother at the same time. It’s not an easy journey but I’m not alone. There are people out here who can help you, like MPTT and UCOL. Keep going. Make sure you want to do it and then work hard.”

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