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Building Success2 min read

Mar 3, 2021 2 min

Building Success2 min read

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Over a year ago, the story of Dhia Ugla featured in Onehunga Community News where he stood out as an inspirational figure who has succeeded against all odds. Now he is busy adding another chapter to his incredible life story.

Dhia came to New Zealand in 2018 as a refugee from Iraq, having spent three years trapped in Mosul under the rule of the terrorist organisation, ISIS. He arrived barely able to speak English and with almost no high school education, but was determined not to let that hold him back.

At 19, well after everyone his age had left school, Dhia enrolled at Onehunga High School and in 18 months caught up on four years of schooling to gain his NCEA qualifications and University Entrance. He was also awarded the school’s Dennie Walls Endeavour Cup in recognition of his determination to succeed.

Last year, he started a four-year Bachelor of Construction Engineering (Hons) Degree at AUT, which requires him to maintain a B average across all four years. So far in his first year he has achieved an A- average.

He also has to complete 800 hours of practical work, and after only a year into his degree  he has obtained one of the most sought-after internships any engineering student could want. Dhia has spent the summer working for City Rail Link Ltd. on the $4.4b City Rail Link (CRL) in the CBD.

The addition of a new underground rail link to Auckland’s transport network is one of the most complex civil engineering projects in the nation’s history and the perfect training ground for Dhia, who hopes to someday be an innovative engineer contributing to New Zealand’s development.

So far, Dhia has worked with the team that built the new Te Komititanga square in front of the old Post Office at Britomart. He has also been fortunate enough to go into the underground tunnels and see the tunnel boring machine in action.

He says that the internship is a huge privilege and he owes it to Amanda Stanes, general manager of the Keystone Trust, and Sean Sweeney, CEO of City Rail Link Ltd. Dhia says they have both mentored him and their support has been inspirational, “I am so lucky to have met these great people.”


(Dhia working on the City Rail Link station at Britomark)