Born and raised in Tauranga, New Zealand, Toanui (Toa) Tawa grew up in a family that valued education and knew from a young age that he would be a teacher. After obtaining both an undergraduate and graduate degree from Southern Utah University, Tawa spent time teaching at Cedar High School and Canyon View High School and is now a lecturer of English at SUU.
“My mother was an elementary school teacher, so early on I understood exactly what it meant to be a teacher,” said Tawa. “I knew that this was the vocation that I was going to pursue. I come from good stock and had that influence in my life for all of my life.”
Tawa has been teaching at SUU for 14 years and currently teaches the following classes:
- ENGL 1010 Introduction to Academic Writing
- ENGL 2010 Polynesian Perspectives
- EDUC 4980 Secondary Student Teaching
Tawa believes that it is the people that make SUU and the surrounding community a special place.
“The faculty and staff here at SUU are a fantastic group of people who genuinely are concerned about their students, about their welfare, but also about their academic progress. Students, current or prospective, need to know that the faculty and staff work extremely hard to make their time here at SUU a quality learning educational experience.”
Proud of his Māori heritage, Tawa has been the advisor for the SUU Polynesian Club for almost 10 years and loves to bring his heritage into the classroom.
“One of the things I think might be an unfair advantage for me is that I come from a very unique culture, and I utilize my experience and my culture, the customs and traditions that I grew up with, in my classroom. I am Māori and I come from a family of entertainers, so to me, the classroom is just another stage. In many ways, students are unaware that while being entertained and engaged they're actually learning.”
“My responsibility is to challenge students. To allow students to explore, search, and understand the world around them and apply the skills that they have gained as part of the student body at SUU, elsewhere in the world. Go forth and learn, create, and experience.”