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A tribute to Dr Teresia Teaiwa

22 March 2017

Dr Teresia Teaiwa

It is with great sadness that we share the news of the death of Dr Teresia Teaiwa, director of Va’aomanū Pasifika, friend, colleague, renowned scholar and poet, and a generous and warm personality of the Victoria community.

Teresia passed away yesterday in close company of friends and family after a short battle with cancer.

Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Pasifika) Hon. Luamanuvao Winnie Laban says the loss will be felt widely amongst the Pasifika community in New Zealand, the Pacific region and elsewhere around the world.

“She was a wonderful Pacific woman and leader who was a role model for all Pacific people. She was hugely committed and passionate about people and social justice in the Pacific, and she will be missed dearly.”

Teresia is internationally known for her ground-breaking work in Pacific Studies. Her research interests in this area embraced her artistic and political nature, and included: contemporary issues in Fiji, feminism and women’s activism in the Pacific, contemporary Pacific culture and arts, and pedagogy in Pacific Studies. In 2007, she was awarded a prestigious Marsden Fast Start research grant for her oral history and book project on Fijian women soldiers.

In 1996, Teresia turned down a job with Greenpeace to take up her first lecturer position at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji.

During this time, Teresia enjoyed being part of intellectual communities that stemmed from the University environment such as the Niu Waves Writers’ Collective, the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Movement and the Citizens’ Constitutional Forum.

In 2000, she moved to New Zealand to join Victoria University to teach the world’s first undergraduate major in Pacific Studies, of which she was programme director until 2009. Most recently she was promoted to director of Va’aomanū Pasifika, home to Victoria’s Pacific and Samoan Studies programmes.

Teresia’s talents in the classroom were formally recognised in 2015 when she won the Pacific People’s Award for Education, in 2014 when she received the Victoria Teaching Excellence Award and as the first Pasifika woman awarded the Ako Aotearoa Tertiary Teaching Excellence Award. In 2010 she received the Macaulay Distinguished Lecture Award from the University of Hawai’i.

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Jennifer Windsor says Teresia was “a remarkable academic leader who leaves a legacy of meaningful change at Victoria”.

"As part of the FHSS’s leadership group, she guided others through her values, commitment to community, and sense of purpose.

“Her warm and generous personality, her dedication to her work, her professionalism and brilliance will be enormously missed by colleagues and friends.”

Teresia’s legacy at Victoria includes a number of successful teaching initiatives, such as introducing ‘Akamai’ for 100-level students, where students can choose to present their learnings through a creative interpretation. Teresia advocated that Akamai helps students to understand that art and performance are part of the intellectual heritage of the Pacific.

Outside of her Victoria role, Teresia was the co-editor of the International Feminist Journal of Politics (2008-2011), and was an editorial board member of the Amerasia Journal and AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples.

Alongside her scholarly publications, Teresia was also a celebrated poet and performer whose solo CD I Can See Fiji was described by a reviewer as a ‘groundbreaking collection of poetry’.

She achieved a Bachelor of Arts from Trinity College, Washington D.C., a Master of Arts from the University of Hawai’i and a PhD from the University of California.

A memorial service will be held for Teresia at Victoria University in the coming weeks.

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STEM scholarships for Pacific students

12 December 2016

Pacific Peoples Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga is encouraging Pacific students to apply for Toloa Scholarships and to take up science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects at tertiary level.

“Pacific youth need to be armed with skills, knowledge and confidence in STEM subjects so they can take part in an innovation based economy. Those skills are essential for much of the workforce,” Mr Lotu-Iiga says.

“By combining STEM skills with pacific values and creativity, New Zealand’s pacific youth can play key roles in addressing challenges such as climate change, digital connectivity and resource management.”

“Higher qualifications tend to lead to higher earnings and better long term prospects for pacific families and communities. We want more Pacific people in skilled, sustainable jobs.”

“We introduced the Toloa Scholarships last year to encourage more Pacific people to study STEM subjects at tertiary level. We have now doubled the funding so more pacific students can benefit,” Mr Lotu-Iiga says.

“There is $800,000 available over the next 4 years with a minimum of 8 scholarships per year.”

“Inaugural recipients last year are studying towards degrees in science, engineering technology, biomedical science and technology.”

“These fine young pacific people plan to give back to their communities.  For example, one recipient wants to use the engineering and building solutions she is learning to get more pacific families in to healthier, practical and affordable homes.”

“Other recipients from last year are studying in fields such as climate change and pacific health.”

Applications for the 2017 Toloa Scholarships open today and close on 20 January next year.

Find out more information about applying for a Toloa Scholarship.

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Tuiloma Neroni Slade to receive honorary doctorate

18 November 2016

Tuiloma Neroni Slade

Victoria University of Wellington's Council will confer an honorary doctorate on distinguished lawyer, statesman and jurist Tuiloma Neroni Slade as part of the University’s December graduation ceremonies.

Victoria University Chancellor Sir Neville Jordan describes Tuiloma Slade as a fitting recipient of an honorary doctorate from Victoria.

“Tuiloma Slade is a person of great dignity and distinction, admired and respected throughout the world for his pioneering work in new fields of law and his outstanding service in the Pacific.

“Victoria University can be justly proud of this distinguished alumnus.”

After graduating from Victoria University with a Bachelor of Laws in 1968, Tuiloma Slade returned home to Samoa as legal officer and senior prosecutor, then Parliamentary Counsel at the Attorney-General’s office.

Early in his legal career, Tuiloma Slade led Samoa's delegation to the third United Nations (UN) Conference on the Law of the Sea. He became Samoa’s Attorney-General in 1976, and between 1980 and 1982 was often called on to act as Chief Justice of Samoa.

In 1983 he was appointed Assistant Director of the Legal Division of the Commonwealth Secretariat in London, where decolonisation, human rights and apartheid were central issues. It was here he gave substantial advice and assistance to developing countries and ex-colonies faced with the challenges of developing independent legal systems and protecting their rights and resources.

Ten years later, Tuiloma Slade was appointed Samoa's ambassador and permanent representative to the UN in New York. He also served as both the Samoan Ambassador to the United States of America and High Commissioner to Canada.

Tuiloma Slade extended his powerful legal analysis and reach to global problems of climate change, the environment and nuclear weapons, co-chairing the UN Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea, as well as an international working group on Compliance under the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change.

An official advisor at international discussions in The Hague in the Netherlands and elsewhere on the Legality of the Threat or use of Nuclear Weapons, he also chaired the 42-member Alliance of Small Island Developing States at the UN.

Tuiloma Slade led the Samoan delegation to the Rome Diplomatic Conference on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court in which human rights and international justice were central, and was one of the first judges appointed by member States to the International Criminal Court sitting in The Hague, where he was a Presiding Judge.

Tuiloma Slade has been conferred the Order of Samoa for his outstanding contribution to Samoa at national and international levels.

From 2008 until 2014, Tuiloma Slade was appointed by Pacific Leaders as Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, the premier political organisation of the Pacific region.

The Victoria University of Wellington Council will confer an honorary doctorate on Tuiloma Neroni Slade at Victoria University’s 6pm graduation ceremony on Wednesday 14 December.

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New model kindergarten for cyclone-stricken Vanuatu

18 November 2016

The devastation caused by Cyclone Pam is still being felt in Vanuatu 18 months after the Category 5 cyclone wreaked havoc across the Pacific, but help is arriving this week as on-site construction begins on a new cyclone-resistant model kindergarten.

Local carpentry students have been building the frame of the kindergarten in a workshop over the past few weeks as part of their technical college assessment. On Monday it was transferred to the site for the remainder of the build.

Funds for the kindergarten were raised by the Victoria University of Wellington community soon after the cyclone hit in March 2015.

The initiative was led by Victoria’s Office of the Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Pasifika) and Victoria senior lecturer Dr Pala Molisa who is from Vanuatu.

The University agreed to match dollar-for-dollar, all funds raised by two student groups—the Victoria University of Wellington’s Students’ Association and Pasifika Students’ Council—with further support from the Vice-Chancellor’s office, staff, students and Wellington’s Ni-Vanuatu community.

In total, over $28,000 was raised.

Victoria University worked with Volunteer Service Abroad and Vanuatu’s Ministry of Education and Training to establish the kindergarten in the town of Manua where it will serve as a central facility for early education in the province.

Cyclone Pam destroyed most of the province’s kindergartens, leaving many to operate under tarpaulins, in tents and without adequate resources.

Dr Molisa says the benefits of the kindergarten will spread throughout the community.

“The kindergarten will also be a training centre for early childhood teachers. The teachers tend to be young mums, many of whom had to leave school early, so it’s a great way for them to re-enter the formal education system to continue their own study. They end up not just teaching kids, but training other teachers in the province.

“It will also provide opportunities for research, interactions with international early childhood students and promote good practices in pre-literacy and pre-numeracy strategies.”

Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Pasifika) Hon. Luamanuvao Winnie Laban says the kindergarten will help rebuild the community’s morale.

“We hope this new kindergarten and teaching centre will bring together again the children, their families and teachers as they continue rebuilding their livelihoods.

“It’s been a wonderful opportunity for the University community too. It’s great to see our staff and students really show support for our Pacific neighbours in a time of crisis.”

The kindergarten is scheduled to open in February in time for the 2017 school year.

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International students shine in awards

28 October 2016

The winning students. From left: Chelcia Gomese, To Quan Quach, Olayinka Moses, and Lothar Krumpen.

The winning students. From left: Chelcia Gomese, To Quan Quach, Olayinka Moses, and Lothar Krumpen.

Presented by Deputy Prime Minister Bill English, the awards recognise the region’s best all round international students.

Four of the twelve students that received awards are from Victoria. The students are Lothar Krumpen, To Quan Quach, Chelcia Gomese, and Olayinka Moses.

“International students make up an important part of our student community, bringing diverse perspectives, cultures and languages to the University environment. It is fantastic to see the hard work of four of Victoria’s students acknowledged, for their achievements in the academic and sporting field, as well as their contribution to the university and wider Wellington community,” says Victoria Vice-Chancellor Grant Guilford.

Lothar Krumpen, whose home country is Germany, is undertaking a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Laws at Victoria. Lothar has been recognised for academic excellence and outstanding grades, as well as his sporting success. Lothar has represented Wellington and New Zealand in the New Zealand University hockey team.

To Quan Quach, whose home country is Vietnam, is undertaking a Bachelor of Commerce at Victoria. To Quan has contributed greatly to the international community at Victoria, being part of Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association (VUWSA), the International Association of Students in Economic and Commercial Sciences (AIESEC) and a number of other groups. She has also been on the Business School’s Dean’s List for academic achievement.

Chelcia Gomese, whose home country is the Solomon Islands, is undertaking a Master of Environmental Studies at Victoria. Chelcia has been recognised for her community contribution, collecting for Red Cross, participating in beach clean ups, tree planting, volunteering for Education NZ, and being a student buddy to students from China, Indonesia and the United States. She was the President of the Melanesian Student Association, did an internship at a non-governmental organisation in Apia, as well as starting an environmental non-profit back in the Solomon Islands.

Olayinka Moses, whose home country is Nigeria, is undertaking a PhD in Accounting at Victoria. Olayinka is being recognised for his academic achievements. He is President of the Postgraduate Students’ Association and a member of the Academic Committee and Academic Board, and has excellent grades. He has helped to organise multiple academic and social events at Victoria and contributed to a number of charities. Olayinka was also acknowledged as being the top international student in the tertiary sector.

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Matā'upu Tau Samoa culture day celebration

28 October 2016

Samoan Studies students gather in traditional dress

Talofa! Mālō le soifua.

On Friday 7 October Matā‘upu tau Samoa/Samoan Studies programme students took part in a culture day celebration at Va‘aomanū Pasifika.

The day aimed to highlight language and cultural learning from readings and online resources and give students the opportunity to experience the actual experience of performing traditional Samoan cultural activities in a relaxed, friendly learning environment.

It was also an opportunity for students to increase their confidence in speaking Samoan outside the classroom by putting the skills they have learnt throughout the trimester into practice.

The students participated in activities such as ‘ava ceremony, lāuga Samoa (oratorical speeches), fāgogo or storytelling (about myths and legends), Samoan food preparation, singing and dancing.

Samoan is the third most commonly spoken language in New Zealand and Victoria University is the only university in New Zealand where students can major in Samoan Studies. Matā‘upu Tau Samoa is one of the two programmes at Va‘aomanū Pasifika Unit, which aims to advance quality teaching and research in Samoan and Pacific knowledge, skills and understandings, hence communicating values and distinctiveness that define Victoria.

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Tongan Language Week

11 October 2016

“Fakaloloa ‘a Aotearoa ‘aki ‘a e Lotoi Tonga” - Enriching Aotearoa with the Tongan Spirit

Victoria University staff, students and the wider Pasifika community celebrated Uike lea Faka-Tonga, Tongan Language Week (4-10 September), in a colourful celebration at the University’ Library’s Pasifika space Wan Solwara.

They were joined by Maureen Tukaroa-Betham from the Ministry for Pacific Peoples, Rev. Hiueni Nuku and Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Pasifika) Hon. Associate Professor Luamanuvao Winnie Laban.

The celebration was hosted by Education student Falakiko Tu’amoheloa and facilitated by library staff.

Rev. Hiueni opened the celebration with a prayer and devotion, and the Library staff choir Leo e Tasi led the Tongan hymn “Oku ‘iai ha ki’I fonua”.

Rev. Hiueni acknowledged Victoria for showing support to its Tongan students. “Thank you for not just saying we are important, but showing it through your action and commitment to learning our language and encouraging our students to hold onto their language and culture.”

Marine biology student and Tongan Students’ Association member Louina Folosi Laulaupeaalu presented a speech in Tongan about the sacrifices needed to succeed in education in Aotearoa and the need to remember sacrifices of earlier generation. She also acknowledged her family’s encouragement that keeps her motivated during her university journey.

The event was closed with performances from the Tongan Students’ Association who had recently returned from Hawke’s Bay from their annual national conference of Tongan tertiary students in Aotearoa, Amatakiloa.

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Cheaper transport means better access to education

26 September 2016

Pasifika student Ali Leota is taking the student-run Fairer Fares campaign to Pasifika communities to rally support for more student-friendly public transport in the Wellington region.Ali organised a public meeting for Pasifika students from Porirua to join the Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association’s (VUWSA) campaign, which is calling for a 50 percent student discount on the region’s public transport.

The meeting was attended by current regional councillors and candidates, VUWSA representatives, Pasifika Students’ Council executive members, university students, high school students and families from Porirua. Greater Wellington Regional Councillor Fauono Ken Laban was the MC for the event.

Students were given the opportunity to share their experiences of the effects that public transport costs has had on them personally and the Pasifika student community.

Architecture student Elyjana Roach emphasised that “cities are made of people, not just roads and skyscrapers” and that the growth of Wellington fundamentally depends on a growth of an educated population.

High school student Nathan Lopa said he wanted to continue to expand his worldview, to “experience a world outside Porirua, and money (for public transport) shouldn’t be the problem”.

VUWSA President Jonathan Gee pointed out that with a student population in the Greater Wellington Region of about 40,000 of which nearly 22,000 are at Victoria, students made a significant social and economic contribution to Wellington. Jonathan said these numbers represented a significant voting bloc, and told students: “we need to vote ... we can determine the election”.

Regional Council candidate Heidi Mills showed her support for the student discount.

Former Porirua Mayor and current Porirua-Tawa Councillor Jenny Brash, who had previously voted against discounted student fares, said after hearing students’ stories she realised how much of an impact transport costs has on low socio-economic communities.

She signed the pledge for student fares on the condition that it would not result in a 50 percent increase for non-students.

Following the meeting’s success, Ali plans to organise another meeting for those in the Hutt region.

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Victoria alumna finds home in poetry

22 September 2016

Emelihter Kihleng

Born in Guam, culturally identifying as Pohnpeian, and a long-time resident of Hawai'i, celebrated Micronesian poet Emelihter Kihleng knew she wanted to do her PhD somewhere in the Pacific.

In 2010, Emelihter arrived at Victoria University to study towards a PhD in Va’aomanū Pasifika (Pacific Studies).

“I heard a lot about this place from people like Samoan poet Maualaivao Professor Albert Wendt and Māori literature scholar Reina Whaitiri. They told me about the arts scene and the creativity here. This is where it’s at for Pacific Islanders.”

Emelihter was the only Pohnpeian studying at Victoria at the time, which brought a sense of cultural isolation.

“Life in Wellington was very different—the food, the people the culture. But I felt welcomed by the Pasifika community and that made things easier.”

The cultural differences didn’t stop the 34 year old from continuing her path of academic success. She had earlier completed a Master’s in creative writing at the University of Hawai’i. And in 2008 her Master’s project evolved into her first poetry collection My Urohs—a collection that launched Emelihter into Pasifika literary circles as one of Micronesia’s first poets to publish in English.

Emelihter graduated from Victoria in 2015, her bilingual PhD thesis examining the poetic ethnography of urohs (Pohnpeian skirts).

Shortly after, she returned to the University of Hawai’i as the Distinguished Writer in Residence in the English Department and then as an English lecturer.

In July this year, she returned to her cultural homeland to work for the Pohnpei State Historic Preservation Office.

“As a cultural anthropologist, my main role is to develop ethnographic projects for the island of Pohnpei. I like that I’m able to work with my own people on projects that involve preserving our cultural heritage.”

As much as she enjoys ethnography, poetry is her first love.

“It’s not like I was born writing or that I have a special gift. I took a poetry class at the University of Hawai’i and loved it.

“Now when I don’t write, I always feel like I’m neglecting my true self and I feel a bit guilty. It’s very important to me that I continue to write and nourish my soul.”

Emelihter’s latest poem the smell is published in Poetry, July/August 2016.

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Where are our Pasifika writers?

15 September 2016

Writers are at the forefront of social and cultural change. They are the ones who ask the difficult questions, open our minds to new ideas and highlight unheard voices. Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Pasifika) Luamanuvao Winnie Laban and the International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML) held a talanoa recently to explore the challenges faced by Pasifika writers and how they can be supported so they can achieve the most impact with their creative work.

IIML director Damien Wilkins says there is a need for more Pasifika creators and he wanted to hear directly from established and upcoming writers on how this can be facilitated.

Emeritus Professor and Victoria alumnus Maualaivao Albert Wendt presented a moving keynote address about the struggles and responsibilities of artists to lead discussions about identity and one’s place in the world.

He expressed gratitude for the previous generation of pioneering writers who created and published against structural barriers.

Many of those at the talanoa acknowledged the Emeritus Professor as their source of inspiration and motivation to write against all odds, as they exchanged experiences, insights and their perspectives on the challenges and way forward for Pasifika writers.

The main challenges faced were convincing publishers of their marketability and finding time to write, as well as financially supporting their family. IIML alumni expressed their gratitude to their teachers who were able to see the literary and cultural importance of their work.

Prominent writers such as Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh, Victor Rodger and Karlo Mila also shared their insights of what it meant to be Pasifika and a writer. Writer Oscar Kightley emphasised the need to “broadcast to Pasifika that you are welcome here, and you will find connection here”.

The day reflected what Damien opened the talanoa with: “What seems made to us, is always in the making.”

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Meet Kapeteni Polutea

31 August 2016

Kapeteni Polutea

Kapeteni Expeditus Polutea’s name emobodies his family’s genealogy and spirituality. His first name is his paternal grandfather’s name, which translates to captain in English. His middle name (Expeditus) is derived from a Roman soldier who was also a Christian martyr, and his last name (Polutea) is from his father. He was born in Sāmoa, and moved to Porirua, near Wellington, when he was 11 years old.

Kapeteni is a tuākana (student leader) for Te Rōpū Āwhina and gladly gives his time and energy to helping Māori and Pasifika science students. Older students have inspired his journey to success and Kapeteni wants to pay the forward to students coming behind him.

Kapeteni was awarded the Norman Kirk Scholarship this year. He found out about the scholarship through a poster at Te Rōpū Āwhina which caught his eye. Kapeteni immediately did some research to find out where the scholarship originated and if it was right for him. “The guy who established this award had a passion for helping Pacific people and the reasons behind the scholarship really fit with what I believe.” Ioritana Tanoi, a fellow student who also received a Norman Kirk Scholarship, has been a crucial influence and source of encouragement in Kapeteni’s pursuit of scholarships and awards.

One of the main reasons Kapeteni chose to study Computer Science and Information Systems was that he can see the potential that techonology has to benefit the lives of his community. However, he says, there is a shortage of software engineers, network application developers and people with other IT skills from his community or working in the best interests of his community. “Almost everyone has technology in their hands, but many don’t understand how it works and how it’s impacting their lives.”

The school leaver’s Excellence Award offered by Victoria was the deciding factor in Kapeteni’s decision to choose the University. “It was a really good start financially, it didn’t cover everything, but it was a big help.”

Kapeteni is passionate about giving back to the community that has provided for him. “It truly takes a whole village to raise a child—so many people helped me get me here.”

“My advice to niu students is to never forget all those who have helped get you to where you are, and to give back to them in any way you can.”

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Celebrating the Norman Kirk Memorial Trust Pasifika Scholarship winners

26 August 2016

Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Pasifika) Luamanuvao Winnie Laban with scholarship winners Ioritana ‘Tana’ Tanoi, (left) and Kapeteni Polutea (right).

Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Pasifika) Luamanuvao Winnie Laban with scholarship winners Ioritana ‘Tana’ Tanoi, (left) and Kapeteni Polutea (right).

Ioritana ‘Tana’ Tanoi and Kapeteni Polutea were awarded a Norman Kirk Memorial Scholarship during a special ceremony at Parliament on 17 August. The night was hosted by Hon. Peter Dunne, and celebrated the scholarships as a fitting tribute to the scholarships’ namesake, the late Rt Hon. Norman Kirk.

Tana is studying towards a Bachelor of Engineering, majoring in Software Engineering and Kapeteni is studying a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Computer Science and Information Systems. Both felt grateful for receiving the scholarship with Tana saying it’s “more than just a financial benefit. It means people believe in you and see potential, and want to see you succeed. It gives motivation to help others as a way to give back.”

Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Pasifika) Luamanuvao Winnie Laban says it was "exciting to see these two Pasifika students excel in Engineering and Computer Science”.

“The generosity of the Norman Kirk Memorial Trust ensures there is support for those students who can realise their dreams with study and hard work, and it provides the resources for that to happen."

The night was also a celebration of the Norman Kirk Memorial Trust winning Trust of the Year. Chairman of the Trust Peter Swain said: “Some Prime Ministers are commemorated in statues in city parks, but Norman Kirk's great legacy of service is remembered in New Zealand and across the Pacific each year when people, who have been helped by scholarships from the Norman Kirk Memorial Trust, graduate and set off to use their skills and knowledge to serve their communities.”

Established in 1976, the Norman Kirk Memorial Trust commemorates the former Prime Minister who served from 1972 to 1974. Norman Kirk was an inspirational and compassionate leader who worked hard to improve life for the underprivileged and built connections between New Zealand and other small nations in Africa, Asia and the Pacific. After his early death, donations from citizens and governments were put into a fund, which is now administered and invested by the Trust.

Find out more about the Norman Kirk Memorial Trust Pasifika Scholarship.

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Cook Islands Language Week

25 August 2016

"Kia ariki au i toku tupuranga, ka ora uatu rai toku reo"

Victoria University celebrated Cook Islands Language Week at the start of August with song, dance and words of wisdom by vaine toa (strong women) from the University and wider Cook Islands community including the Cook Islands High Commissioner, HE Teremoana Yala and the AVC (Pasifika) Hon. AProf Luamanuvao Winnie Laban.

Wan Solwara, home of the Pasifika collection in the Kelburn Library, was adorned with vibrant floral decor to celebrate the week as well as providing a collection of books in te reo Māori Kuki Airani for all students to experience, learn or brush up on their language skills.

Cook Islands students were given the opportunity to share a part of their University experiences and why they have chosen their field of study, which ranged from Marine Biology to Development Studies.

Te Kura Moeka’a, a Victoria alumna and current Student Learning Advisor at the University, encouraged students to take pride in celebrating the value of their language and culture as a vital part of their university successes.

Students were encouraged to mou piri—to hold on—to the language of their ancestors as it is not only an important mode of communication, but also a carrier of culture. Language carries history, culture, and mana that must be held on to as children of the Cook Island diaspora. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Māori), Professor Rawinia Higgins, urged all to carry the promotion and appreciation of the reo beyond the boundaries of Cook Islands Language Week.

“To embrace my heritage, my language lives on.”

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2016 Budget presentation: Investing in a growing economy

8 June 2016

Prof Bob Buckle, HE Leasi Papali’i T Scanlan (Samoa), Hon Bill English, HE Joy Kere (Solomon Islands), HE Cristiano da Costa (Timor-Leste), A/Prof Winnie Laban, HE Teremoana Yala (Cook Islands)

(L-R): Prof Bob Buckle, HE Leasi Papali’i T Scanlan (Samoa), Hon Bill English, HE Joy Kere (Solomon Islands), HE Cristiano da Costa (Timor-Leste), A/Prof Winnie Laban, and HE Teremoana Yala (Cook Islands) at the VBS Dean's Lunch in May

Local business and government leaders were welcomed at Victoria Business School last week to hear Finance Minister Hon. Bill English speak as part of the Dean’s Lunch Series.

His presentation covered critical features of the 2016 Budget, discussing the key priorities and next steps in New Zealand's economic programme from the National-led Government's eighth budget.

The title of the Minister's talk was 'Investing in a Growing Economy', and he told those gathered that the outlook for New Zealand's economy was positive and that "this Government is ambitious for New Zealand".

"With a strong economy and continued prudent management of the government finances, we can realise more of that ambition.

"Our eighth Budget showed a healthy set of public accounts – with rising surpluses and falling debt, on the back of an economy forecast to grow at around 3 per cent on average over the next few years, supporting more jobs and higher incomes."

Professor Bob Buckle, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Victoria Business School, remarked: "We are delighted to have had the opportunity to host over 50 friends and supporters of the Victoria Business School to listen to the Minister’s excellent presentation on the NZ economy and key features of the 2016 Government Budget.

"One of the interesting features of his presentation was New Zealand's relatively strong fiscal performance compared to that in many other developed economies. Another was the Minister's discussion of the priorities in this year's Budget, and the way fiscal policy design is evolving to tackle those priorities."

Norman Gemmell, Chair in Public Finance at Victoria Business School, officially thanked the Minister saying "as we have learned to expect from Minister English … an informative and entertaining presentation".

Victoria Business School was also privileged to host four High Commissioners at the Victoria Business School event, including HE Leasi Papali’i T Scanlan (Samoa), HE Joy Kere (Solomon Islands), HE Cristiano da Costa (Timor-Leste), HE Teremoana Yala (Cook Islands).

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Samoan scholar wins Top Achiever Award

31 May 2016

The second-year commerce student received the award in front of Samoan High Commissioner Leasi Papali’i Tommy Scanlan, as well a crowd of friends, University staff and representatives from award sponsors, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Sina received the award for outstanding academic results in her first year in the New Zealand Pacific Scholarship, run by the New Zealand Aid Programme at Victoria.

Sina is studying Accounting and Commercial Law and Taxation. In addition, she is this year a mentor for first-year commerce students for the Māori and Pasifika mentoring programme, Te Pūtahi Atawhai. Sina is also a member of the Samoan Students’ Association and Victoria Plus.

In her speech, Sina encouraged her fellow Pasifika students to make the most of opportunities studying at Victoria.

“When we come here to study, we not only represent ourselves and our families, we are representing a nation that is hopeful of us and is awaiting our return so we can use the knowledge we gain to make a difference back home and contribute to its development.”

Helena Cook and Julia McEnteer from Victoria’s New Zealand Aid Scholarships team presented Sina with a pounamu necklace as a taonga to recognise her success.

Dr Cook says she remembers Sina from the moment she stepped off the plane in Wellington from Samoa last year. “She was very shy and quiet, but has blossomed into someone who’s confident and doing such an amazing job. I’ve been really impressed with her heart, the way she’s endlessly upbeat and acing her classes.”

Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Pasifika) Associate Professor Hon. Luamanuvao Winnie Laban praises Sina’s perseverance and passion that has seen her achieve top grades, and her generosity in finding time to help other students as a mentor.

“Sina studies hard and aims high, and that’s going to provide wonderful opportunities in the future when she starts her career. Sina is a great role model for our Pasifika students as she personally demonstrates the importance of academic achievement.”

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Graduate fulfils his mother's wish

31 May 2016

Timi Melei surrounded by family ahead of his graduation

Timi Melei (centre) surrounded by family before graduating with a Master's in Criminology.

And despite being surrounded by family at his graduation in Wellington from Victoria University, it was bittersweet for Timi.

“I was excited to be there and my family was really excited. But it was also hard because I was looking forward to my mum witnessing this time.”

Timi’s mother was diagnosed with cancer in 2014 and in the following year her condition became critical. Despite being halfway through his Master’s thesis, Timi moved back to Tuvalu to be with her.

“I wanted to put my Master’s on hold but she advised me to continue. She kept me going. I had to force myself to study to make her happy.”

Timi says it was a stressful time for the family and it was difficult to concentrate on his studies. He says the unreliable internet connection was a further challenge as he frequently needed to source information online from the library at Victoria.

Timi was grateful however, to have the support of his supervisor Professor John Pratt. “I could only contact my supervisor through email, and sometimes phone calls. He was great and enhanced my writing no end,” he says.

Timi persevered with his thesis, regularly studying twelve hours a day.

In February, Timi’s mother passed away.

It wasn’t the first time Timi’s mother had guided him towards formal education. Timi didn’t attend secondary school as a teenager because as the only male in the house, he took over the main household duties. But when he was eighteen, his mother persuaded him to go back to school and begin year nine in secondary school.

“I was so embarrassed to study with the young ones and I was so shy. I started learning English and in my first test I got four out of 100.” Determined to improve, Timi began studying at 4am every morning.

Over ten years later, Timi is now fluent in English and has several tertiary qualifications to go with his new Master of Arts in Criminology.

He says he wouldn’t be where he is today without the continual encouragement from his mother.

“I pushed myself because I made a promise to my mum and my grandmother when I was going to high school that I would be the best I can be. I know my mum is happy with my performance.”

Timi will return to his former role as an officer in the Tuvalu Police Service. He says his thesis, which explored the reasons behind Tuvalu’s low incarceration rates, has enhanced his understanding of how to integrate the existing customary way of solving disputes.

His research shows that the factors that produce low prison rates in Tuvalu are the social characteristics that reflect both the homogeneity of the population and Tuvalu’s egalitarian social relations.

Although returning to Tuvalu, Timi will continue to work with his supervisor, Professor John Pratt, on a book chapter for an edited collection on criminology issues in Asia, Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific and Latin America.

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UK Climate Change expert takes lessons from Pasifika community

28 April 2016

Climate change expert Professor Jim Skea from the United Kingdom stopped off at Pasifika Haos during his brief visit to New Zealand to hear Pasifika representatives discuss crucial issues of climate change.

Professor Jim Shea, UK Climate change expert

Professor Skea co-chairs the mitigation group for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and is in the country to launch the Royal Society of New Zealand’s ‘Transition to a low-carbon economy for New Zealand’ report.

He attended Pasifika Haos at Victoria’s Kelburn campus to participate in a workshop organised by the University’s Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Pasifika) Associate Professor Hon. Luamanuvao Winnie Laban to address climate change mitigation and adaptation, research and investment priorities.

However in his opening address, Professor Skea assured the participants he “was here to learn from everybody else”.

“The IPCC wants to get strong engagement with all of the regions. We’re keen to get feed-in from the people, listen to your views and make a report to get more people involved in the process [of developing the upcoming IPCC Sixth Assessment Report and Special Report on 1.5°C warming],” he said.

About 40 people took part in the workshop, including High Commissioners from Papua New Guinea and Cook Islands, representatives of the Solomon Islands, Tokelau and Britain, Pasifika community members, students and fellow IPCC contributor Professor Ralph Sims from Massey University. The workshop resulted in recommendations for IPCC activities, and for research providers and funders.

Associate Professor Laban says it is “very important” to Pasifika people to be involved in the IPCC’s processes.

“The Pacific, which includes New Zealand, is in the eye of the storm when it comes to climate change. We have an important story to tell and we must be involved in shaping the policy that will determine the global response to climate change. With the Paris Agreement in place, we now have to act – locally, nationally and regionally.”

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Pacific Ways: Government and politics in the Pacific Islands

28 April 2016

A new book about politics in the Pacific provides insights about 27 Pacific Island countries and territories.

The book—edited by Victoria University of Wellington Professor of Political Science Stephen Levine—includes contributions from a number of Pacific scholars from across the region.

It covers the regions of Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia, and all Pacific countries, irrespective of their size or political status.

The contents mirror the diversity of the Pacific, with chapters about an array of island nations whose politics receive relatively little media or scholarly attention.

Pacific Waysoffers information about the political leadership and systems of government in countries and territories ranging from larger nations, such as Australia and Papua New Guinea, through to the tiny island territories of Pitcairn, Rapa Nui/Easter Island and Tokelau.

Originally published in 2009, this second edition of Pacific Ways has been written by an almost entirely new team of authors, offering their own perspectives on the Pacific’s problems and prospects. This new edition also adds two further chapters, with contributions about West Papua and East Timor/Timor-Leste bringing the total number of countries and territories covered to 27.

Pacific Ways includes a specially commissioned colour map of the entire Pacific Islands region, providing a visual reference point for each of the states and territories.

Professor Levine says Pacific Ways has proven useful to Pacific policy-makers, business people, journalists and others with professional interests in the island states and territories of the Pacific. The book has also served as a text and as a resource for lecturers and students specialising in Pacific Islands affairs.

He says the aim of the new edition of Pacific Ways is to provide a clear, thoughtful, up-to-date account of the political, historical and institutional environment in which decision-making takes place, whether in independent countries or in those affiliated to the United States, France, New Zealand, Indonesia or Chile.

Contributors: Peter Clegg, Jack Corbett, Jon Fraenkel, Lorenz Gonschor, Cheryl Hunter, Iati Iati, Keli Kalolo, David Kupferman, Marc Lanteigne, Michael Leach, Hapakuke Pierre Leleivai, Stephen Levine, Kelly Marsh, Nic Maclellan, Gordon Nanau, Vergil Narakobi, Robert Norton, Glenn Petersen, Gregory B. Poling, Zag Puas, Max Quanchi, Frank Quimby, Steven Ratuva, Nigel S. Roberts, J. Robert Shaffer, Tyrone Taitano, Salote Talagi, Takuia Uakeia, Wouter Veenendaal, Phillipa Webb, Forrest Wade Young

Pacific Ways: Government and Politics in the Pacific Islands is available in bookshops and can also be ordered from Victoria University Press.

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