HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 608: 21 March 2012

Maria Tanner spends 5 minutes with ... Raewyn Castle
Landing a role working with troubled young Pacific Islanders in New Zealand, in the 2 short years of her placement Raewyn Castle quickly realized that she had bitten off more than she could chew burning her candle at both ends before she decided that she had earned herself a well deserved break taking a sabbatical from the grinding traditions of social work. Castle, a Cook Islander raised in New Zealand, often makes the effort to visit home on a regular basis, and on her most recent took the time out to check in with the Herald to talk about our youth, the importance of education and the ways to best bridge that gap between the secondary and tertiary schooling.

Herald: I’ve been looking forward to talking with you Raewyn, I’ve always wanted to ask someone if they are exactly where they want to be, and judging from your photo I’d say yes?
Raewyn: (Laughs) Well I can’t complain, sun and sand although, I wouldn’t usually sit and let someone take photos of me like this.

H:Well you’re pulling moves like a natural! So tell us what exactly does your role in New Zealand entail?
R:Well it’s an exciting role; I work for Unitec Institue of Technology as the pastoral care for our international students. What this means is that for all new international students admitted into Unitec I am their first point of contact upon arrival into New Zealand, I monitor them every semester their academic achievements and how they measure, give them support to help them achieve. It’s a very different scene for an international student than a local student; it can all be very exciting.

H:And overwhelming too I imagine, that can be quite a huge change.
R:Well that’s right it all new scenery, new territory, new bearings and different culture. From last year’s intake they are focusing on having more young mentors and leaders but I think that it would help to have the first semester as a bridging semester.

H:Ok I see your suggesting a semester offered to international students that allows them settle into what will be their home away from home for the next 3 odd years.
R:Exactly a lot of our last intake did not feature many mature students; they were quite young I’m talking straight from high school or with either a year in between. It’s not that they are failing it’s just that getting accustomed to New Zealand, the schooling system and a whole list of other things that suggest that it would be more beneficial for them to get assimilated to their new surroundings during their first semester.

H:That’s an insightful thought you’ve clearly had your work cut out for you. How exactly did you get the role of pastoral care for Unitec?
R:Well like I said we give them support for them to achieve plus I’ve been doing this for 16 years now! I was at one point working with young, troubled Pacific Island youth but I just got burnt out really, so I decided that I needed some time out and just spent some time doing a 3 week temping stint at Unitec which to be honest I was very blasé about. That turned into an interview with the international department and at the time there was a high turnover of student councilors it became aware to me that there was a need for a different approach, and 16 years later in still there for our students.

Herald Issue 608 21 March
- Terms of one China Policy document should be reviewed
- Pacific Media Assistance Scheme Seeks Innovation
- Successful NZ visit by PM
- Rerekura Teaurere New Climate Change Coordinator
- News Briefs

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