Travelling to Rarotonga as recipients of the Ministry of Education-administered Pa Enua Students Education Assistance Grants (PESEAG) scheme, the group attended Tereora College, studying subjects ranging from maths, English and Maori to business, music and tourism.
Marking their successful NCEA results with a celebratory lunch at The Islander, the consensus from the group was that moving to Rarotonga to continue their education had been “good but different”.
“Coming from a small school with only 27 students back home and coming to a place where there are 700 students is different, totally different,” says 16-year-old Moe Marsters.
“The first couple of months were hard,” explains 18-year-old Bury Marsters.
“You’ve got to get used to the school and your studies – because you have to go from class to class.”
“Back at home we only stayed in one office,” adds 18-year-old Ned Marsters.
To be eligible for a PESEAG, students must have maintained an excellent attendance rate at school on their home island, as well as achieving certain literacy and numeracy standards.
The grant pays for students’ travel to Rarotonga, their NCEA fees and educational resources, and also assists with daily living expenses.
While some of the Palmerston students travelled home in July last year for a family reunion, others haven’t been back since they first arrived on Rarotonga.
“Swimming every day, going fishing and having fun when we want to” is what 15-year-old Julia Marsters has missed most about life on Palmerston, but 19-year-old Sareanna Marsters says the move to Rarotonga has brought with it “better education and more options”.
Possible career options the students are now considering include horticulture, construction and mechanical engineering.