Teina Strongman is currently completing his final year of a degree in Contemporary Music and has graduated with a Bachelor of Audio Production through the Double Degree.
From the small, but fast-growing town, of Kerikeri in Northland, Teina has been involved with music since he was 11-years-old and has been involved in audio for the past six years.
“I play guitar, bass, and some vocals, although I currently major in bass,” he says.
“I’ve played in multiple bands and have engineered the audio for countless gigs, worked with lighting for a few places, and have recorded, mixed, and mastered for numerous artists.
Whilst living in Brisbane, Teina worked with a local church to produce a Christian Hip Hop album, creating the instrumentals along with helping write the songs.
“From there, I began creating instrumentals and selling them online and privately and was completely independent right up until I began producing and mixing for a friend who had created his own label/production group called ‘Southmade Entertainment’.
“He mentored me until we moved to Invercargill, separately.”
Teina had been intending to move back to Auckland to study at SAE as they have campuses all over the world, but a friend told him that SIT had a more practical audio program and it was also ‘free-fees’.
“I had no idea where Invercargill was until about two weeks before I had to move down!”
He says his tutors were amazing.
“They’re friendly enough and help as much as they can whenever they can. Whether that be advice, education, finding jobs, etc they helped a lot.
“And because I’m quite proactive in the audio industry in Invercargill, I’ve been able to meet Laughton Kora from Kora, Che-Fu, Tiki Taane, Hollie Smith, and Troy Kingi even though I knew him already.”
By studying at SIT, Teina has not only learnt a lot, met a number of important contacts, but he says he has also learned how to learn properly.
“Since being a high school drop out, I haven’t been able to learn things effectively and created a lot of bad habits,” he says.
“Since studying at SIT I’ve been able to think critically about situations, my personality has changed quite a bit in a positive way, and I’ve even been able to do the things I love doing outside of course which has been an amazing experience.
“I’ve learned professionalism, punctuality, work ethic, everything. It was definitely a good idea to study here.”
Teina says he has made enough contacts to be able to continue with audio anywhere he wants to in New Zealand.
“The tutors have managed to give me plenty of work in the audio industry in Invercargill and have been willing to put my name forward for future jobs that may come up.”
“The HoD for Audio, Doug Heath, has given me plenty of advice and employment opportunities and continues to offer me support.
“Charlie Bronson and Matt Turnbull have also helped me find A LOT of work over the last year and a half and continue to give me and my band opportunities wherever they can. Amazing people.”
The freedom of his course has been another great thing about studying at SIT, Teina says.
“You basically book the studios and work on your own projects if you wanted to. The tutors are also amazing and tend to be more laid back than university tutors and are extremely understanding when it comes to mental health.”
In five years, Teina would like to be tutoring at a local tertiary level institution or running his own teaching business from home.
“I’d like to set up my own home studio to go back to recording and producing without having to book studio time anywhere,” he says.
“Doing live engineering at the local shows would be awesome for some extra cash, but mostly I’d like to teach guitar and bass for my main income.
“SIT has been an amazing experience with awesome people. Couldn’t have had a better experience anywhere else since the tutors actually pushed me to continue and now I’ve gone from being an unemployed high school drop out to a qualified audio engineer with a decent portfolio and plenty of work. Life is working out well for me at the moment.”