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Pacific student profiles

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These profiles offer you the opportunity to hear the voices of some of our Pacific students, both past and present.

We believe the stories showcasing some of the Pacific students who have previously studied at the University of Otago will truly serve as inspiration to others.  Alongside these stories are the earnest accounts of some current Pacific students, students who are extremely driven, determined and deliver in showcasing academic success.   These current students offer words of wisdom to new students and they share with us some of the key things that have led to their positive academic experience thus far.

Our gallery

Please scroll below to see a selection of photographs of Pacific students taken during their time at the University of Otago.

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Above image: Student Anneka Gandhi shows off the app she helped create for the Pacific Islands Centre. Photo: Sharron Bennett.

An app created by Information Science students will make it easier for the University’s Pacific Islands Centre to communicate with the students it supports. Read the full story.

Heilala award photo 15082017

Above Image: Claire Matthewson and PVC Tony Ballantyne present Faith Eccles with the Heilala Book Prize.

A new book prize has been established to celebrate the highest achieving Pacific female student in a 200-level paper in the Humanities. This year the 2017 prize went to the inaugural winner, Faith Eccles, at an event held in August. Faith received the prize for her outstanding result in Anthropology 210 Translating Cultures. Read more...

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Above 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.  Read the full story.


Sisilia Teu with Toloa Award 2017_MPP Auckland

Above image from left to right: Ms Pauline Winter, QSO, Chief Executive of the Ministry for Pacific Peoples, Hon. Alfred Ngaro, Minister for Pacific Peoples, Ms Sisilia Teu, 2017 Ministry of Pacific Peoples Toloa Scholarship awardee with her parents Tevita Napa’a Teu and Talalelei Teu and Dr Marie Inder, Division of Sciences, Project Manager Pacific Student Support (University of Otago).

Ms Silsilia Teu is studying towards a Bachelor of Commerce, with a major in Information Science at the University of Otago and was one of eight recipients to be offered a Ministry of Pacific Peoples Toloa Scholarship. These scholarships are dedicated to Pacific students pursuing studies in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects. In April 2017 Ms Teu travelled to Auckland to attend the Ministry of Pacific People's Toloa Scholarships award evening. Read more about applying for a Ministry of Pacific Peoples Toloa Scholarship.


Pacific Scholarship Event at Uni of Otago_22032017_v2

Above image from left to right: From left to right Dr Mele Taumoepeau, Division of Sciences, Associate Dean Pacific; Tofilau Nina Kirifi- Alai, Manager of Pacific Islands Centre; Ms Jae Stowers, Programme Manager with Ministry of Pacific Peoples; Professor Vernon Squire, Deputy-Vice-Chancellor Academic; Ms Sisilia Teu, University of Otago student and recipient of Ministry of Pacific Peoples Toloa Scholarship; Professor Richard Barker, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Division of Sciences; Professor Harlene Hayne, Vice-Chancellor; Professor Richard Blaikie, Deputy-Vice-Chancellor Research & Enterprise; Ms Diane Fenika, Senior Regional Advisor with Ministry of Pacific Peoples; Dr Tasileta Teevale, Director Pacific Development.

In honour of University of Otago Pacific Peoples Entrance Scholarship Awardees a celebratory event was held in March 2017, with the official address delivered by Professor Harlene Hayne, Vice-Chancellor. This year as seen in the above image success was also celebrated with regards to Ms Teu receiving a Ministry of Pacific Persons Toloa Scholarship. Read Sisilia's full story.

More details on University of Otago Māori and Pacific Peoples Entrance Scholarships and the Ministry of Pacific Peoples Toloa Scholarships can be found here.


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Members of the Christchurch branch of the Pacific Island Health Professional Students Association (PIHIPSA) group, which recently volunteered at Christchurch's Polyfest event.

Pacific Island Medical students from the University’s Christchurch campus recently volunteered their time - giving free medical checks to people attending the Polyfest event. Read the full story.


Metitilani Alo Singing at Convocation_2016
Above: Contemporary Music Performance student Metitilani (Lani) Alo performed Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror and Six60’s Don't Forget your Roots at the University's second annual Convocation ceremony, held at Forsyth Barr Stadium in February 2016  

The Convocation ceremony marks the start of the University of Otago Orientation Week and this year saw 3000-first year students in attendance.  For the full article...


Staff and Students at Pacific Scholarships Event
Above Image:  Staff and some of the Pacific recipients who were awarded University of Otago Māori and Pacific Peoples Entrance Scholarships (2016)

In honour of Pacific Peoples Entrance Scholarship Awardees a celebratory event was held in the Council Chamber, Clocktower in April 2016, with the official address delivered by Professor Harlene Hayne, Vice-Chancellor.  More details on University of Otago Māori and Pacific Peoples Entrance Scholarships can be found here.


Pacific Student Performance at PASC Launch July 2016 (1)
Above Image: Latafale Auva'a, C.J. Sopoaga, Callum Lynch-Hines and Eden Iati perform in song at the formal launch of the Pacific Academic Staff Caucus on 11 July 2016

Read more about the Pacific Academic Staff Caucus (PASC) launch