They were at school.
That’s because Vakatini and his family have learned the value of education.
Vakatini left the island as a young toddler, spending eight years in New Zealand and two in Australia before returning to Rarotonga in 2013 as a young teenager. He attended Nukutere and later Tereora College and, as many young people do, wanted to do a lot of things back then, “but mostly I liked engineering.”
Employed at CITC for seven years, quietly-spoken Vakatini was given a push by the company, by family and by friends to take up the chance of tertiary study.
The company offered him opportunities – and Vakatini decided, “why not”, and signed on. He appreciates that the corporation supported further education for the staff: “It’s good, it helps us,” he says.
Tutor Eileen Turepu is very good, he says. “She is patient and pushes me to keep going.”
Committed to the course, juggling work, as well as being a father and a partner, he’s “glad and happy everything is over”.
Happy, and with his family by his side, this quiet achiever is sure to continue to climb.
“Part of me wants to continue to study, at the moment I’ll just see what happens, I’m enjoying the break from studying and can focus on other hobbies.”
“It’s a relief, finally getting it done, my family was there on graduation day to support me, but my kids were at school.”
Vakatini says he didn’t have terrible struggles: “I have a very supportive family.”
He was awarded his hard-earned certificate at the Cook Islands Tertiary Training Institute Graduation Ceremony.
To those who may find it difficult, he has a message. “Nothing is impossible, just fit in time to study. Whatever goals you set, go for it, keep pushing yourself to achieve it.”