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Otago strengthens ties with Pacifica youth

Thursday, 25 May 2017 9:17pm

MoU-Aorere-College-image
The Principal of South Auckland's Aorere College Gregory Pierce and University of Otago Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Helen Nicholson (centre) sign a Memorandum of Understanding between the two institutions earlier this month.

Otago is actively working to support Pacific youth into tertiary education – with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with one South Auckland secondary school this month underscoring these efforts.

Otago signed the agreement with Aorere College during the University’s Pacific on Campus Experience (POCE) in early May. Eleven of the school’s pupils accompanied their principal Gregory Pierce to Otago to POCE – most of whom were visiting the South Island for the first time.

Aorere College is a decile two school in South Auckland, with a roll of 1,600 pupils, mainly Pacifica and Māori.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (External Engagement) Professor Helen Nicholson says the University of Otago and Aorere College share a longstanding, common commitment to lift the aspirations and educational achievement of Pacific students and their communities.

"We want to provide opportunities for Pacific young people to attend university and also to assist them to achieve their full potential and be the leaders of the future."

“Pacific Islanders migrated to New Zealand for better opportunities, especially educational opportunities – this relationship will further ensure they achieve that and we as a society will benefit from it in the long run.”

The MoU will see the two institutions work together to encourage Aorere’s Pacific students to engage, participate, and succeed in higher learning. It will also see them work together to prepare Pacific students for tertiary study, and support their successful transition into this study, particularly at Otago.

Otago Pacific Islands Centre Manager Tofilau Nina Kirifi-Alai says Pacific students from Aorere College are already coming to Otago, and the MoU is a natural progression.

“It’s about working smartly to ensure the student is guided from year 9 to 13 and to transition successfully to university,” she says.

It is also about recognising the value of working together, where everyone involved in the life of the student comes together to prepare him or her for a successful academic journey, she explains.

Mr Pierce, the College’s principal, is an Otago graduate. He is very excited about the partnership with Otago, and says those who accompanied him to Dunedin this month had a fantastic experience and have come back “focused, energised and looking forward to their tertiary studies.”

Professor Nicholson says if this partnership with Aorere College is successful Otago may extend it to other secondary schools.

“We want to provide opportunities for Pacific young people to attend university and also to assist them to achieve their full potential and be the leaders of the future.”