Category Archives: Student stories

Jandals – not just something for your feet


The UC Pacific Development Team’s Jandals events regularly connect UC Pasifika students for a night of fun and laughter. For the last two years the welcome has been extended to secondary schools for the ‘Fiafia’ Jandals event, a combined concert and information night with the College of Education, Health & Human Development. PDT Events Coordinator Tumama Tu’ulua writes about what makes it successful.

The Pacific Development Team prides itself on our connection with Pasifika students – keeping them connected with UC and each other, and making them feel supported is something we see as really important. When students feel welcomed and engaged with university they do better. That’s one of philosophies behind Jandals, an event we hold three times a year. It’s a chance for our students to get together in a relaxed environment, hear a few updates, and have heaps of fun.

Our biggest Jandals event is our Term 3 Fiafia night, which is a combined event with UC’s College of Education, Health & Human Development. We extend the invite out to Christchurch secondary students, and give them a chance to engage with both PDT and the College of Education. The idea is only in its second year, but we have already seen increased interest in studying at UC as a result, which can only be a good thing.

The College had been holding their own Fiafia night to connect with potential Pasifika students, but were looking to expand their reach. Teaming with us seemed a good idea, and having seen the success of our XL outreach programme, they approached us and asked how we felt about combining the two events. We thought it was a natural fit. By combining our strengths, we create a better event – it’s a really good example of the way Colleges can work with PDT to increase their engagement with Pasifika students.

As always, the proof is in the numbers. With 210 sign ins, and an estimated 250 people at the Jack Mann auditorium, Our 27 July Jandals was our biggest ever event – eclipsing even our Pasifika Gradation celebration.  A large proportion of these numbers were secondary school students – they outnumbered our current UC students on the night.

Another great strength of our Fiafia night is the calibre of our performers. At this years’ we had Fuzhun, a five-piece band from Shirley Boys’ High School, who won the regional Smokefree Rockquest title this year. We also had Daisy Speaks, an amazing spoken word poet and star performer at the 2016 WORD Christchurch Festival.

Throw in a few games and prizes, a hugely receptive crowd, some great student and teacher speakers from the College of Education, and a delicious dinner supplied by CUSSA, and you have a really successful event.


I’ll leave the final words to Barry Brooker, Student Experience Manager at the College of Education, Health & Human Development:

“The mix of speakers, fun activities and musical items showcased UC, particularly the College of Education, Health and Human Development, as a supportive place for Pasifika students to study. The speakers gave a real sense that through enrolling in teacher education, health or sports coaching programmes, prospective students could make a positive difference to their own lives and the lives of others in the Pasifika community.”

That’s music to our ears.

All UC students, staff and friends are welcome to Jandals, so if you want a night full of fun and laughter Pacific style, please keep an eye on our Facebook Page out for our next event!


Erskine Profile – Robert Wilton (Canada)

Robert Wilton from McMaster University, Canada – Semester 2 2016

Robert - Erskine

Where you have come from and what do you teach?

I am a professor of geography based in the School of Geography and Earth Sciences at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Much of my research over the past two decades has been concerned with the challenges that people with disabilities face in their efforts to participate in social life.  While these challenges stem in part from people’s impairments, they are also linked to enduring social, economic and attitudinal barriers that many people confront.  At McMaster, I regularly teach undergraduate and post-graduate courses on the social dimensions of disability, social inequality and North American urban geography.  I also teach research and field methods.

What interested you in the Erskine Programme/Why did you want to come to UC?

I had heard about the Erskine Programme from a health geographer in Ireland who visited the Department of Geography and spoke very highly of his experience. I was delighted when my colleague Sarah Lovell, a health geographer based in the School of Health Sciences here, asked if I would be interested in coming to UC this term.

What have you been doing at UC?

My main role this term has been to help with the development and delivery of a qualitative research methods course for postgraduate students in the School of Health Sciences. I have been working with Sarah Lovell and Lois Tonkin to develop content and readings for the course, which is being offered for the first time this term.

I’ve also given a guest lecture to undergraduate health sciences students on different models or ways of understanding disability. Later this term, I will give a research seminar on my current research, which looks at the role of social enterprises in creating work opportunities for people living with psychiatric disabilities.

What have you most enjoyed about your time here at UC/Christchurch?

The programme has provided a great opportunity to step outside my own disciplinary and institutional home, and to interact with faculty and students who come from different academic backgrounds. Also, the warm welcome that we’ve received at UC and at Ilam School where my sons are enrolled has been tremendous. People have gone out of their way to make us feel at home.  My oldest son has already indicated that he doesn’t want to leave at the end of the term!