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Friendships can be forged in the most unexpected places and for Franny Marsters and Sera Pulepule, it was behind their desktop screens studying at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.

The pair first met in the computer labs as tauira for the Level 2 and 3 National Certificate in Computing two years ago and bonded through their love of family and learning. 

Since then they've gone on to complete two other programmes together, the 18-week level 4 computing programme as well as the 18-week level 3 Certificate in First Line Management and Leadership. 

"It all started in 2015," says Franny, who was made aware of the wānanga and its computing programmes, through word of mouth.  

The Cook Island customer services representative had experience with computers, but a chronic illness diagnosed in 2011 prevented her from working. However, through her own determination her condition improved to the point where she felt ready to upskill and find employment again.

"Finding my way after that long break was a challenge, but the whole class was like unity - all helping one another," she says.

"The people are awesome, the tutors are awesome, and the support services really great."

She's also discovered her passion to pursue a career in IT and is now currently enrolled in the Diploma of Information Technology.

Franny says while she's loved learning how to design and build websites, the pace in the diploma course has picked up significantly to include writing computer code.

"It's even more of a challenge but I'm up for it," she says with confidence.

"It's been amazing and I'm loving it."

Sera has also stayed on at the wānanga this year to pursue her interest in raranga to help hone her flower arrangement skills on display every week at her church services.

Everything Sera studies is to add value to the work she does for the Samoan Assemblies of God, a fellowship her father, the late Reverend Dr. Samani Pulepule helped build in Auckland back in 1967.
"I was my parents' primary caregiver and had never thought of moving on. Then mum passed away suddenly and dad was heartbroken. We buried her on a Saturday and he died on Tuesday," says Sera.

A year of grieving followed their passing in 2013, before she decided she needed to "get up and do something."

Sera says when her father was pastor, volunteers used typewriters to produce learning resources. Then when computers became the norm, she would get her nieces to type up her lessons for Sunday School teaching.

"They did that for me for ages but one day they said; 'Aunty, go and learn how to do it, it's easy,' so I did and that's how I ended up here," she smiles.

"Oh I've learned heaps, I didn't even know how to turn a computer on. I knew nothing, but I had an awesome tutor who helped me so much. She had the patience to put up with me."

Today Sera not only produces her own lesson plans, databases and Sunday School colouring pages for church, she helps others too by sharing her new-found computer knowledge.

"I love to tell the young ones to come in and take these courses as all the training is free. I even recruited a Māngere Town Centre librarian, she loves it here. I'm just happy that I know what to do. I'm proud of myself and that I can work the computer."


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Published On: April 26, 2017

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