Thinking big: Tamale's Story

Date: 17 Apr 2023

After graduating from Dilworth in 2019, Tamale Taufa thought big from the outset- but not for himself - his mission was to what he could do to help the world.

‘I started critical thinking to see what was needed in the world and what I could do to play my part. I saw the need for Pacifica teachers and for learning and it was the driving force behind my decision’.

Tamale, who has recently attained his Bachelor of Arts degree in Education, Children and Learning from AUT, has a passion for teaching and hopes one day to work overseas. He came back to visit his old school on the eve of his graduation ceremony and as he stood to have his photo taken, on the steps of the Dilworth Cross, reflected on his time at the school. He said Dilworth gave him the ‘desire to dream’ and then made it become a reality through English, Drama and Careers teachers who ‘gave us the chance to open our minds and to have resources to make it feel realistic through work experience’.

He chose the site to have his photo taken outside his much loved drama department, the Sir David Beattie Centre.

Starting university wasn’t plain sailing for Tamale when in March 2020, at the start of his study, the country was plunged into lockdown. However, as a recipient of the Staples Education Tertiary Scholarship, Tamale was awarded $5,000 per year for the first three years of tertiary study as well as holistic support to help him transition into university life which he credits with helping him enormously, especially through this tough time.


Tamale Taufa together with members of his family and the Staples Foundation Founder, Haydn Staples


Tamale said receiving this scholarship meant everything and was ‘the greatest thing ever’ helping him to eliminate the stress of bills and to have the chance to focus on study ‘outside the green gates’.  He said the mentoring provided by the Staples Foundation was key with his mentor, Callum McGibbon, helping him to understand the wider world and then to put it into perspective from his own experience, teaching him to be optimistic and not to be close-minded.

In addition to financial support, the Staples Foundation provides networking opportunities for students and matches them with mentors and a dedicated buddy. It also provides ongoing training through the Support and Development Programme and offers two weeks’ work experience per year in the profession or industry of their choice.

Tamale said hearing that he had received the Staples Foundation Scholarship ‘was the happiest feeling ever and that he admired Haydn Staples so much for his drive and desire to provide this scholarship’.

The day he visited Dilworth Tamale was flanked by his whānau, Grandma Uaniva Taufa, his sister, Emma Taufa, and Aunty Amelia Oko, who had made the special trip from Tonga for his graduation. Tamale was also joined by Karen Bennett, General Manager of the Staples Foundation. The enormity of her grandson’s achievement was etched on Grandma Uaniva’s face, as she talked of how she had raised Tamale since his Mum had tragically passed away, early on in his time at Dilworth.

Tamale’s parting words for current students of Dilworth School.

“Forget the people who want to bring you down, prove with that voice you can do it and the rest is history”. 

Tamale with his Aunty Amelia Oko and his Grandma Clanvia Taufa