Studying at the University of Canterbury (UC) opened TV reporter Daniel Faitaua’s mind to the world around him and helped spark his dream of living and working overseas.
Faitaua graduated from UC with a Bachelor of Arts in Japanese and American Studies in 1999 and after 12 years working as a journalist and newsreader he is now TVNZ’s Europe correspondent based in London – a role he says is his dream job.
“I get paid to learn about how the world works, meet fascinating people and explain stuff that matters and sometimes changes lives.”
The Covid-19 pandemic hit several months after he moved from Auckland to London with his wife and three sons last year. While the role has become busier, riskier, and more high pressure he still loves being in the city.
“One year on and my workload is even busier. Every time you leave home you’re reminded you’re putting your own health and life at risk in order to cover the pandemic.
“From a personal perspective, this is not the family OE I expected but lockdown makes you appreciate family more and as the death toll in the UK stands at more than 45,000 you realise how precious life is, not to take life for granted, and to enjoy it to the fullest.”
Faitaua, who is Samoan, was born and grew up in Christchurch and went to Catholic Cathedral College before starting his degree in 1995.
He says his experiences as a UC student changed him, encouraging him to step outside his comfort zone and become more open-minded and adventurous.
“I learned to stand on my own two feet, make decisions, use my initiative and go it alone. When I left university I had a stronger head on my shoulders than when I started, with a significant confidence boost.”
He became a journalist by accident after returning to UC to study law part-time and realising he could solve problems through storytelling. His journalism career took another step when he became a news reader on Breakfast and 1 News at Midday.
He says university study taught him valuable skills for journalism, such as researching, absorbing information, and questioning rather than accepting things at face value.
Every day at UC was different. “It was a chance to grow and be challenged by the people around me. UC transformed me – I was learning from the best and I turned challenges into opportunities and then into achievements.”
He advises young people considering university study to choose subjects they like, but not to be afraid to explore something new.
UC is a place where you go to carve out your future, he says. “It will take you to places you’ve never been before and if you’re like me you won’t rest until you succeed.”