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Tupou played rugby and league for the Cook Islands, Cronulla Sharks, Penrith Panthers and Highlanders. But his career path took a turn when he didn’t get re-signed. He had the option of travelling to Europe to play rugby, but he decided to stay with his family in New Zealand and change his career.

When Tupou decided his rugby career had finished he thought he’d have to work in a factory. But Tupou’s wife Ali said his life was more than just playing rugby or collecting a pay cheque. He had some great soft-skills that she believed weren’t being utilised in his current job.

Tupou had dreamed about being on the radio when he was young. He used to listen to Nieu FM with his family before school. But the idea of taking time off work to study and get a loan seemed impossible with a wife, daughter and mortgage.

“Debt was the biggest worry for me and my family.”

Then he found out he could study for a year and complete a Radio Broadcasting diploma from Whitireia fees-free.

The option of Fees Free took the pressure off Tupou and allowed him to study without having to worry about his family.

Tupou won an award for his work at the New Zealand Radio Awards after completing his free diploma. He now hosts Nieu FM on the weekends.

He says studying fees-free meant that once his study was finished, it truly was finished.


Like Tupou, you could be eligible for Fees Free. If you’re facing a career hurdle or would like to change careers, Fees Free can help. One-year diplomas are a great way to make use of Fees Free to refresh your existing skills or develop new ones.

Check your eligibility or share your story.