Tertiary study leads to dream job

News News & events

02 Nov 2017

Enrolling at Ara was a huge step for Aubrey Tupai Creagh and one that has since led him in directions he could not have imagined, including most recently to a dream job he feels blessed to be doing.

As a mature age Samoan student Aubrey was determined to succeed in the Institute of Management New Zealand diploma. “The willingness and thirst to succeed and the determination to produce good marks and achieve something for myself as an older Pacific Island descent student, was something very important to me,” he said.

When Aubrey enrolled he had recently returned to Christchurch after five years away. He was newly married and had just been bestowed with his Samoan ‘Matai’ title Tupa'ilevaililigi from the village of Papa Sataua in Savaii. It was no small adjustment to studying and living on one income.

However, Aubrey’s family were 100% behind him and he was very motivated to take the next step in his life – a step that was not possible without a qualification.


Aubrey Tupai Creagh graduated in management at Ara, but has found his dream job as a Border Control Officer. 

“I was motivated to study as the roles I had previously held were in run-of-the-mill service, customer service, operations support roles, which I thoroughly enjoyed but I knew I had the knowledge, drive and desire to get past that capped level and push through into a leadership/senior role. I really believe my studies helped me get over that barrier.”

“My drive initially has always been from my parents Gisa Noa and Tua Tupa'i who are very proud Samoans; the immense and exemplary model that my super supportive and wonderful wife shows me every day, who I consider the ultimate professional; and my younger sisters Ridvan, Antonia and Sala, who all have tertiary degrees, one who is currently a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, to get back into education and to activate my intelligence. They have all thrown their weight behind my goals and helped me to develop a hunger to keep learning.”

Aubrey was impressed with the facilities and expertise of his tutors at Ara (then CPIT); citing the “excellent classroom environments and amazing adaptability and excellent calibre of course tutors, especially the likes of world class educators Juan Pelligrino and David Mark, who were the most brilliant teachers I have come across in a very long time”.

Achieving his goal, Aubrey graduated and worked as an Operations Supervisor for a year with a logistics firm. He says getting this job was “a direct result of my study and I believe my grade average and suitability for the job”.

The experience he gained then led to a different field: as an Immigration Border Officer based at Christchurch International airport. Skills he learnt at Ara were transferrable to the new position. “I feel that my time at Ara/CPIT has also helped me understand how to work, communicate and make robust decisions in my role.”

When people arrive in New Zealand, one of the first people they might meet is Aubrey, who deals with a huge range of different cultures – and absolutely loves it.

“My role at the Border is a highly sensitive one where I have to draw from all of my experience together with my recently acquired skills and management and organisational operations education to deal with people from all races, cultures and walks of life. It really is an amazing occupation and I feel so blessed to have been chosen to work where I do.”

Sometimes when students start on a path of study, it takes them in direction they could not have foreseen. New opportunities open up as skills are acquired and experience is gained.

“So the outcome is this; here I am; working in my dream job, working in a perfect environment and utilising all of my skills old and new - helping New Zealand and New Zealanders.”