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The Transitions Project offers events and activities to support students and their teachers in students' transitions to tertiary study in New Zealand.

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Film premiere 2022

Not Just Dreams is a documentary film created by Ali Mostolizadeh, a filmmaker and member of the Transitions Project team, in collaboration with student participants of the Transitions Project.

The film features project participants as they explore, navigate and express their journey of resettlement and education in southern Aotearoa New Zealand. The film was partially funded by a UNESCO Minor grant in 2021–2022. We premiered the film for project participants and their families, local teachers, school leaders, Ministry of Education staff, and resettlement support staff at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery in late November and Centre Stage Invercargill in early December 2022.

The film is an educational resource and may be released more widely in the future. Please contact the project team for more information:


Watch the Not Just Dreams film trailer on YouTube

Secondary to Tertiary Transitions Project workshops

Workshops completed


  • February to October (Dunedin-based tertiary students): Weekly 'Afternoon tea club' catch ups (ongoing)
  • July (Dunedin-based secondary and tertiary students): Pathways into health professional programmes – learning from senior students and graduates
  • February: Tertiary Education Orientation Workshop (Combined Dunedin and Invercargill students who are enrolling in Dunedin-based Polytechnic and University Programs)


  • July (Combined Dunedin and Invercargill event, held in Dunedin): Fieldtrip to Dunedin; Colombia National Day dinner and salsa night; University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic tours; Combined dinner and workshop with tertiary students focused on education pathways, stress and coping.
  • April: Mapping education pathways; exploring tertiary education options, application processes and funding opportunities; Southern Institute of Technology tour and lunch (Invercargill); Iftar dinner (Dunedin)
  • March (Dunedin and Invercargill): 'Welcome meet-ups' and information sessions


  • December 2020 (Dunedin and Invercargill): End of year celebration; revisiting maps; 2020 film preview; planning 2021
  • October 2020 (Dunedin and Invercargill): Career speed-dating; starting film project
  • July 2020 (Dunedin and Invercargill): Mapping a successful life; meeting schools' liaison officers from local tertiary education institutions
  • April 2020 (via zoom): introductions; mapping educational pathways; project planning



Our talented documentary filmmaker Sayedali (Ali) Mostolizadeh won New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO Minor Grant funding for 2021-22 for the project “Refugee-background students navigating education pathways in Aotearoa New Zealand: A participatory film”.

Congratulations to Naya Ghazzoul, who was accepted and won a scholarship to participate in the 2021–22 Women in Engineering Canterbury (WiE CAN) residential programme at the University of Canterbury and Fatima Omidwar who won a scholarship to attend the February 2022 Outward Bound Southern Cross course, sponsored by the Human Rights Commission.


Anderson, V., Mostolizadeh, S., Oranje, J., Fraser-Smith, A., & Crampton, E. (2023). Navigating the secondary-tertiary education border: Refugee-background students in Southern Aotearoa New Zealand. Research Papers in Education, 38 (2) , 250-275. doi:10.1080/02671522.2021.1961300

Anderson V., Ortiz-Ayala., & Mostolizadeh, S. (2023) Schools and teachers as brokers of belonging for refugee-background young people. International Journal of Inclusive Education, doi:10.1080/13603116.2023.2210591

Anderson, V., Cone, T., Rafferty, R. & Inoue, N. (2021). Mobile agency and relational webs in women's narratives of international study. Higher Education. doi:10.1007/s10734-021-00714-7

Anderson, V. R., Cone, T., Inoue, N., & Rafferty, R. (2020). Narratives of navigation: Refugee-background women's higher education journeys in Bangladesh and New Zealand. Sites: A Journal of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies, 17(1), 15-39. doi:10.11157/sites-id458

Rafferty, R., Burgin, A., & Anderson, V. (2020). Do we really offer refuge? Using Galtung's concept of structural violence to interrogate refugee resettlement support in Aotearoa New Zealand. Sites: A Journal of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies, 17(1), 115-139. doi:10.11157/sites-id455

Transitions Project coverage online

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