Building on our success at the 2023 Fulbright New Zealand Scholarship Awards

Thursday 13 July 2023

Two alumni, one current PhD student and an academic from Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa Massey University have been named recipients of 2023 Fulbright New Zealand Scholarship Awards, which will see them take their studies international.

From left: Bonita Bigham, Dr Gina Cole, Associate Professor Siautu Alefaio-Tugia, and Emerita Baik

Associate Professor Siautu Alefaio-Tugia, Dr Gina Cole, Emerita Baik and Bonita Bigham were honoured at the Fulbright award ceremony at Parliament on 28 June. Dean Research Professor Tracy Riley and Scholar Development Coordinator Micaela Moll were present to support the recipients as they received their awards.

Associate Professor Siautu Alefaio-Tugia - Fulbright New Zealand Scholar Award

Dr Alefaio-Tugia will be researching Pacific-Indigenous and urban diasporic resilience across disaster and humanitarian contexts at the National Disaster Preparedness Training Centre at the University of Hawai’i and the Centre for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies at Brown University in Providence.

“I am humbled to be a recipient of the Fulbright Scholar Award as it will enable international research collaboration focused on Pacific-Indigenous and urban diasporic community resilience across disaster and humanitarian contexts,” she says.

“It is an awesome opportunity to work together with US research leaders across two institutions, and shine a global light on how cultural systems of response sustained by urban-diasporic populations are equity-based approaches for international disaster and humanitarian contexts.”

Dr Gina Cole - Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writer’s Residency

Dr Cole holds a Bachelor of Law (Hons), Master of Jurisprudence and Master of Creative Writing (First Class Honours) from the University of Auckland, as well as a PhD from Massey University. She will attend a three-month writer’s residency at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa to work on a science fiction fantasy novel in the genre of Pasifikafuturism.

She says being the recipient of The Fulbright Creative New Zealand Pacific Writer’s Residency will have a positive impact on her writing.

“I’m looking forward to spending time in the Pacific, immersed in a Pacific Island sensibility, on Hawaiian whenua, as well as having access to the university resources and to the indigenous community of writers and artists there. It will be an inspiring place for me to live when I’m writing about Pacific culture. I know the experience will feed into my writing and deepen the ideas I am developing about imagining the future from an Indigenous Pacific Ocean point of view.”

Emerita Baik – Fulbright New Zealand General Graduate Award

Emerita Baik graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (First Class Honours) from Massey University in 2019. She is from Kirikiriroa Hamilton and will complete a Master of Fine Arts at Columbia University in New York.

“It is an absolute privilege to receive the Fulbright Award. I could not have been where I am now, or who I am, without the support of so many people around me. I feel extremely blessed and excited! I hope to inspire others to do the same and go for their dreams.”

Bonita Bigham - Fulbright New Zealand General Graduate Award

Bonita Bigham, Ngāruahine, Te Atiawa, is currently studying towards a PhD in Fine Arts. She graduated with a Diploma in Print Journalism from Western Institute of Technology in Taranaki in 2002, a Master of Fine Arts in 2019, a Master of Māori Visual Arts in 2021 from Massey University and a Toi Paematua Raranga – Diploma in Māori Arts from Te Wananga o Aotearoa in 2021. She is a Taranaki Regional Councillor, artist and passionate community and Māori arts advocate. She will research impacts of laws and conventions on the retrieval and use of marine mammal resources for artistic purposes, in Aotearoa and Hawai’i.

“I’m really honoured to have been selected as a Fulbright scholarship recipient and am looking forward to the opportunity this presents me to do research that has a positive impact for Māori and our Kanaka Māoli cousins in Hawai’i. Massey has provided me with a strong foundation for this work and the support and guidance from my past and present supervisors has been invaluable. Tēnā rā koutou mō te tautoko.”

Scholars Massey Programme

In 2020 the Scholars Massey programme was introduced to encourage more Massey students to apply for scholarships and to support students during their scholarship application process.

Professor Riley says when she first attended a Fulbright ceremony she was surprised that there were no Massey students being awarded a Fulbright.

“It’s great to see our presence growing at the Fulbright Awards. In 2021, we had four recipients and another two in 2022, and four this year.”

The programme is a peer support initiative for Massey scholarship holders that provides networking and development opportunities. The Scholars Massey team made some of these award recipients aware of the Fulbright opportunities and provided information sessions, application support, mock interviews and encouragement that led them to apply.