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Pathway to Success

Before Sieni Skelton-Richardson left American Samoa to pursue an education in New Zealand, she set three goals: 1) she wanted a degree, 2) she wanted to own her own home, and 3) she wanted to become a citizen. These were fairly audacious aims for a woman in her late twenties, who following high school had worked as a fish cleaner and then in administration at a tuna processing plant.

But it was when she was made redundant from her admin role and received a payout that she saw her chance to create a new pathway for herself in New Zealand. She enrolled initially in a Diploma of Business and Accounting as an international student and eventually went on to complete a Bachelor of Commerce, while flatting in South Auckland.

With a degree under her belt, and the first item ticked off her list, she set about achieving the second goal. This was particularly important to Skelton-Richardson as growing up in Samoa until she was 12, and then in American Samoa, her family had always owned their own home. She felt that home ownership gave a family security, and a centre for their community.