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Dean Prendergast | Tokyo to Tauranga

Dean Prendergast

Dean was born and raised in the Bay of Plenty, after a few years of living and working in Japan he has moved to Tauranga to study at the brand-new University of Waikato campus. We caught up with Dean to find out what it’s like to be studying in Tauranga, his future career aspirations, and the opportunities he has had connecting with local businesses. This is his story:

Dean, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your journey so far?

I was born and grew up in the gorgeous tourist geothermal town of Rotorua and spent several years after high school working and studying in Christchurch, Auckland, Taupō, and Tauranga. After a couple of career pivots and a desire for new surroundings, I caught a bad case of the travel bug and ended up on an O.E across Asia. This eventually evolved into a friend and I start a small community English school in Tokyo Japan, where I lived for about 3 years.

After years abroad full of adventure the homesickness started to set in, I decided to move back to Tauranga in pursuit of higher education at the University of Waikato. I am now studying a Bachelor of Business double majoring in Strategic Management and International Languages and Cultures. I’m now in my final semester and I’m both excited and nervous about where life will take me next.

So you’re studying at the brand-new University of Waikato campus in Tauranga CBD, what’s that like?

I undertook the first semester of my degree at the Hamilton Campus before transferring to Tauranga, and there are still a few of my language papers that are only offered in Hamilton, so I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to spend time on both campuses. Though, while they each have their own perks and advantages, I am absolutely blown away by the remarkable architecture and layout of the Tauranga Campus.

It has been meticulously designed to provide students with a modern and supportive study environment, with the most up to date teaching facilities. Spanning 5 floors, you can always find a place to socialise, enjoy some quiet study or get some inspiration on finishing that 2000-word essay!”.

The teaching and admin staff are second to none, putting students’ needs at the very forefront of everything they do. And the location…It’s smack bang center in the middle of town! You can’t get better than that! Not to mention it’s only a short trip to the beach. The only downside is that I’m graduating this year, so I won’t have the opportunity to stay at the stunning new student accommodation opening next year.


What opportunities have you had since living and studying in Tauranga?

One of the best things about the Tauranga Campus is its size. Our lectures rarely exceed 100 students, and tutorials are often a cozy 10 to 20 people.  This creates an intimate learning environment where you get to know your classmates and lecturers well. This also provides more opportunities to engage in university life. I have been lucky enough to take a lead role in many of my classes, being elected as a student rep for more than half, taking part in the UoW’s pathways international exchange program, a scholarship recipient, a tutor and have represented the school of Marketing and Management as an ambassador, and most recently an Internship with the Economic Development Agency Priority One.


My internship with Priority One has been in the newly formed skills and employment hub Ara Rau – Pathways to Work. My role is projects and marketing coordinator. The purpose of Ara Rau is to support our region’s labour market needs through effective connection of job seekers, employers and service providers. I have had the opportunity to help grow this new initiative and work alongside people who are committed to supporting our local community”.



What do you like most about living and studying in Tauranga and where do you see yourself going from here?

Tauranga businesses are known for being well connected with their community. The University and local businesses have a great relationship, and this results in awesome opportunities for students to have access to their career options early.

Having adjusted back into the student and study environment and known the flexibility that the University of Waikato provides to students has encouraged me to make the decision to continue my studies next year part-time in pursuit of a Master of Management Studies while continuing my journey toward a rewarding and successful career.

One of the benefits that interning through Priority One has given me, is valuable insight into the future of the Western Bay. It has highlighted how many amazing opportunities we have to develop our little corner of New Zealand, and just how impressive our quality of life is here in the Western Bay”.

I hope to remain in Tauranga, using the knowledge and skills I have obtained through life and studies up to this point, to help give back to the community and create an even better future city for the next generation.


If you’re looking for work or looking to move to the Western Bay you can get in touch with Ara Rau Pathways to Work.

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