The Faletutulu family are firm believers that education opens the door to the world, and unlimited opportunity.
Education has always played a huge part of the Porirua-based family eight, consisting of Sarona and her husband Lepisi (pictured below) also known as Ps Lepisi Max Faletutulu and their six children - three boys and three girls - Victor, Grace, Joshua, Faith, Daniel and Lyvia.
The family increased to nine when Victor married Shanae four years ago.
Both of Samoan heritage, Sarona was born in New Zealand while Lepisi ventured from Samoa to Aotearoa to attend school.
“My husband’s late parents were both teachers in Samoa and education was a big part of his upbringing.
“Education is important in every Samoan family and I grew up valuing its significance in order to get a good job,” Sarona says.
All the Faletutulu children have been raised with the notion knowledge is power.
Lepisi has installed his belief that education is a window of opportunity to be used for betterment of one’s journey and family in his children and this has seen them striving to reach their full potential.
“For my children, it was attending their dad’s graduation and watching him walk across the stage with his gown and cap which kick started their academic dream,” Sarona says.
“Our eldest son graduated at Victoria University of Wellington, moved to Auckland to continue studies while Shanae his wife, who is Cook Island Maori, also graduated at Victoria University, worked as an accountant at an Auckland firm and is now a fully qualified Chartered Accountant.
“Meanwhile, our son Victor completed his honours and Master’s degree in Public Policy, and he graduates this year and has been blessed with a job as a Policy Advisor at Auckland City Council.”
The Faletutulu’s eldest daughter Grace is writing her PhD thesis at Victoria University on how policy makers can improve health services to better the mental health of young Pacific peoples in New Zealand; and another son Joshua has completed his degree at the University of Auckland in Public Policy and is now focused on teaching music.
Faith and Daniel are currently studying at Victoria University while the youngest child Lyvia is still at secondary school.
“Degrees have opened doors for us as a family and individually, working with the community,” Sarona says.
Grounded in faith and God, Sarona says by sharing her family’s story, she hopes to show Pacific people in New Zealand that anything is possible.
From humble beginnings, the Faletutulu family has made the most of the opportunities presented to them and will serve their people by sharing their knowledge.
“We hope to encourage our Pacific families to use opportunities we have to better our lives, ourselves and others.
This land and beautiful nation of Aotearoa New Zealand is our home and we need to believe it and really make it our home.”