The contrast couldn’t have been more stark when Josh Vosawale left his school at Lautoka in Fiji to come to St Peter’s College. His home village was a boat ride away from where his father worked as a church minister at Nadi, but Gore was far away from any palm fringed seashore and life in New Zealand very different from his traditional and disciplined upbringing back home.
As a pupil at Natabua High School, Josh had excelled at athletics and captained U14 –U17 rugby teams from 2007-2010 and was a member of the NZPTC Academy for Rugby in Nadi. Scholarships to schools in NZ are highly sought after in Fiji, but to qualify requires being a good “all rounder” both academically and on the sports field. Josh applied for a Pacific Islands scholarship and was accepted to study at St Peter’s here in Gore.
Coming to Southland meant his first trip by plane – an exciting prospect. When he arrived he found the weather cold here, but the welcome was warm and although he missed his family back home in Fiji, especially during school holidays, they kept in close contact by phone. Josh was the second Fijian student to stay in the St Peter’s Boarding House, and he soon made friends here. He enjoyed the life and the meals, but missed the abundance of fresh sea food back home on the islands. Staying with local farming families in the school holidays meant that he was able to help out on the farms and he particularly enjoyed anything that involved machinery, which was to become one of his main interests.
By 2012 he was captain of the St Peter’s First XV and coach to the U15 Rugby League team. He was also playing for Southland County Senior Men’s Rugby team, having been in their Under 18 team in 2011. When his school career drew to a close he gained a scholarship to the Southland Institute of Technology to study heavy automotive machinery. This is a one year course, which will be followed by a three year apprenticeship. At the same time Josh is a member of the Excelsior Rugby Club and plays for the Barbarians in the Southland Premier League. Josh has maintained his link with the St Peter’s Boarding House, working with the junior boys whilst studying at SIT and ultimately his goal is to be an All Black and play rugby in the Olympics. Based on his record to date, he might well do just that!