We are so fortunate to have welcomed Mr Tala Aufai to our Trinity family this term. He joins us as College Chaplain, and it is clear from the moment you meet him that he is that rarest of humans, someone totally genuine and authentic, and completely comfortable in his own skin, all of which is reflected in his every answer in our getting-to-know-you Q&A…
Tell us a little about your background and family?
I was born and raised in Wellington, New Zealand. My parents are from Samoa. I moved to Australia in 1993 when I was 23 and have been living here ever since. I am married with three children, two daughters Ezrae, 21 and Lisa, 19, and a son, Wesley, 15. My wife, Josephine, has a similar background to me (her parents are Samoan and she was born in Auckland, New Zealand). My wife and I have been Christians all our lives and have been married for 23 years. I love our Lord Jesus Christ and my desire is to live my life as an act of worship and service to Him.
Tell us about your professional background?
Work – I have been a School Chaplain for nearly 14 years. I started at Browns Plains State school and was there for three years before moving to Woodridge State High School for eight years and then spent two years at Marsden State High School. I also served at John Paul College as the Assistant Chaplain. I worked as Chaplain for the state schools for three days a week, and at JPC for the other two days. Ministry – Whilst working as a Chaplain, my wife and I planted a church based in WSHS where we served for 13 years as Pastors. We then stepped down from full-time ministry for a number of years before serving in a Samoan-speaking church called QLD LMS Pacific Church for a year, finishing in November 2021.
What drew you to Trinity Lutheran College?
I really enjoyed my part-time roles serving in schools, and my goal was always to serve full-time in one school. The role of College Chaplain at Trinity Lutheran College became available. So, after much pray and reflection with my family, I applied and here I am 😊
What do you bring to Trinity from your previous experiences from a career/work/life experience perspective and as a parent?
I love the Lord and I absolutely love sports!!! Over the last 20 years I have always been involved in sports in some capacity, as a coach, manager, volunteer, clean up/pack up for sports teams. I also view myself as a cheerleader on and off the field, giving words of encouragement to students, staff, and parents when things are going well and also when things are tough. I like to celebrate their achievements and successes and, during hard times, provide comfort and support. I’m loud and passionate about the things I love, which is hopefully contagious, but also quiet, attentive, and caring when I need to be.
How would you describe your own school-going self (what you were like at school)?
I went to an all-boys school in Wellington, and spent my five years of high school at Rongotai Boys College. During that time, I participated in many sports and other extra-curicular groups. I did cross country, athletics, debating, volleyball, badminton, School Army Cadets, soccer, computer club, chess club (I was never any good but enjoyed the friendships) and in my final year was a School Prefect, Deputy House Captain and Leader of the Polynesian Club. During my high school years I also attended my church youth group and participated in our Combined Youth rallies with other churches and fun Friday night activities.
What book inspires you and why?
I enjoy reading autobiographies – reading life stories of people from the past/present. How they have overcome, grown up and what challenges they have faced. I find them inspiring and encouraging and they help me with pursuing my own life story.
Who has been your biggest influence?
Besides my dad (Rev Talaifeii Aufai), I would have to say John Wesley, an Anglican Minister from England during the 1700s who preached to so many people and saw many people come to Christ. My son is name Wesley Talaifeii Aufai.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Just do it – from my wife. I would often dream of things I would like to do – but then fail to make them happen. My wife inspires to action – Just do it!
How do you relax / what do you do in your spare time?
I enjoy watching movies, watching sport, mowing lawns/gardening and spending time with my wife and kids.
What is your favourite music?
I love Michael Jackson, the Proclaimers (I would walk 5oo miles) and most pop/RNB music. I also enjoy some heavy metal music, rap, and especially old church hymns. I also enjoy most current Christian songs.
What is the most adventurous thing you have ever done?
Missions trip to Vanuatu. When we were travelling by plane from one island to the other, we had to go on a very small plane (12-seater), the runway was extremely short, and the end of the runway was a cliff. I remember being really scared and praying that we would land safely, funny now, looking back. The Missions trip itself was a great opportunity to equip local churches in Vanuatu with tools for Evangelism. I learnt so much from them as well.
What is your best quality?
I love to laugh; and I like making people laugh and genuinely making them feel good about themselves.
What are you most excited about, having joined Trinity?
The future God has in store for me at Trinity as I serve this school. I hope to start up a youth group, a group of students who are interested in knowing more about Jesus in a relational way or simply have questions about their spiritual journey. This really excites me as I have already had conversations with students in this regard. I love the sporting culture and working together to achieve a team result.
What do you like most about your profession?
I get to connect with the school community (students, staff, and parents) and simply do life with them. Learning more about them and sharing stories of where they are at and where they hope to be.
What do you do for exercise / wellbeing?
At school I try to participate in lunch time activities like volleyball, basketball, and touch football, so that keeps me pretty active. I also play touch football on Friday nights. For wellbeing, I like to spend time alone and watch a movie on Stan or Netflix, that’s my kind of unwinding and relaxing. I also enjoy mowing the lawn, it gives me a sense of satisfaction when I have finished.
What is your favourite sport or cultural activity to watch or participate?
For sport I love to watch my rugby union teams, the Hurricanes and the All Blacks when they play. I must admit, I get very upset when they lose. I am also a fan of the Broncos and the NSW team for State of Origin, Go the Blues!!! For culture, it’s the Samoan culture and the Māori culture, especially watching the different Hakas.
What profession would you be doing if you weren’t a chaplain?
I had a dream/plan of joining the Queensland Police Service and being a Policeman and join the Army Reserve.
What accomplishment in your life are you most proud of?
To be honest, getting married. I love my wife very much and she is, and always has been, my best friend. She has given me three beautiful children and is constant source of support and encouragement. She loves me so much and I love her.
What has been the biggest challenge or obstacle you have faced in your life?
Academics is not my strongest point. One of my goals is to study at university this year, so I’m preparing for the month of June when I start.
What’s your one biggest pet peeve?
I guess I have many, LOL, but perhaps the most annoying is irresponsible drivers.
What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?
Education is important, go to class, do your homework, and do revision.
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
My full name is Findlay Tala Aufai, I use my middle name. My mother told me that when I was born, I nearly died if it not for the skills of the specialist – Dr Findlay. So, I was named after him.