If Alapasita Teu has her way, there will be a lot of New Zealanders much like her in the future – Pacific Islanders who are fit, healthy and engaged in regular physical activity.
The University of Otago Physical Education student is passionate about promoting healthy lifestyles, and after completing her honours degree, specialising in Public Health, she intends to move into work doing just that in Pacific Islands and Māori communities.
“All the statistics we learn about in class seem to be stacked up against these communities,” Alapasita says. “Physical activity has had a really positive impact on my life and on my family's life, and I want to be a part of ensuring that it can have a positive impact in these communities, which have limited access to health care and other resources.”
Alapasita's love of sport is nothing new – she has always been a keen netballer and played tennis competitively as a teenager. But her time at university has allowed her to refine her goals and gain invaluable new experiences, she says. The opportunity to do work experience at a Dunedin exercise prescription clinic and to tutor Pacific Islands high school students through the University's Pacific Islands Centre have been particular highlights, she says.
“Setting sail to study PE has been a thrilling and rewarding ride,” says Alapasita. “Having the opportunity to work in the field while you study means we have a real sense of what we are going to be doing out in the real world, and it has really exceeded my expectations. It's been a blessing and an amazing journey.”