At the launch of Pacific at Otago's 150th anniversary celebrations last week were (from left) Dr Latika Samalia (Professional Practice Fellow, Department of Anatomy), Tofilau Nina Kirifi-Alai (Manager, Pacific Islands Centre) Faumuina Associate Professor Fa'afetai Sopoaga (Associate Dean (Pacific), Division of Health Sciences), Afamasaga Pavihi (Chairman, Samoan Advisory Council FonoFaufautua Otago), Mama Keni Moeroa (Cook Islands community leader), Dr Tasileta Te'evale (Director, Pacific Development Office) and Professor Richard Blaikie (Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research and Enterprise).
Cake, song and prayer set the tone for the launch of Pacific at Otago's 150th anniversary celebrations last week.
After a prayer from Chaplain Greg Hughson, students Antoinette Tuipe'a and Metitilani (Lani) Alo performed a moving rendition of The Prayer.
Tofilau Nina Kirifi-Alai introduced the members of the komiti and ran through the year's programme, with many of the events centred on the weekend of 15-17 March.
The Director of Pacific Development Dr Tasileta Teevale welcomed guests and said the Pacific's 150th programme was a chance for past and present students and staff, and local Pacific communities to come together to celebrate their Pacific connections.
“The aspirations of the organising komiti were inspired by the how the University is looking at the celebrations,” Dr Teevale said.
"The aspirations of the organising komiti were inspired by the how the University is looking at the celebrations. It's not just about looking back, it's about reflecting our outstanding achievements of the past and using them to inform our future."
“It's not just about looking back, it's about reflecting our outstanding achievements of the past and using them to inform our future.”
Using “niu”, the proud Pacific symbol of the coconut, in the catchline “let us come together to celebrate the old and the Niu!” sets the scene for the Pacific 150th programme.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) Professor Richard Blaikie, who spoke about spending the first two years of his life in Fiji, officially launched the programme on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor.
“Firstly we are here for our students, our students, our students,” he said.
Professor Blaikie emphasised the strength that comes with integrating Māori and Pacific cultures, knowledge and heritage into everything the University does.
He also spoke about the Pacific section of the recently published edition of He Kitenga, which highlights ground breaking research and distinguished Otago alumni and current staff, including Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara who helped lead Fiji to independence, and the work of Professor Diana Sarfati, Faumuina Associate Professor Fa'afetai Sopoaga and Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu.
During the year, Pacific 150th events include a friendly Masters Golf Tournament at Chisholm Links, campus tours taken by Pacific student leaders and an Evening@the Student Pub, all on 15 March.
On Saturday 16 March, a Pacific Corporate 150th Dinner with the theme O le Folauga – The Journey will be held at the Dunedin Town Hall. This will be an evening to celebrate, reminisce and re-strengthen the “daring” spirit for tomorrow, and features the Otago Pacificana Students' Choir and Performing Arts Group.
The next day, breakfast will be provided by residential colleges, and a Community Lotu will be held at the Union Hall at 1pm, followed by a BBQ.
During the Queen's Birthday Anniversary celebrations, a Students' Koneseti on 3 June will feature current Pacific students showcasing their vision for the next 150 years of Pacific at the University of Otago.