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Pacific staff

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Please see below a selection of photographs of Pacific staff from the University of Otago.

University of Otago grows Pacific science connections

Losa Moata'ane 2020 image

Building and connecting the University of Otago’s work in science with the Pacific, in order to contribute to development and help address the region’s challenges, is the priority of Dr Losa Moata’ane.
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Supreme Award won for tertiary teaching excellence

Ako Aotearoa PM Supreme Award 2018
Hon Chris Hipkins, Minister of Education and Faumuina Associate Professor Fa’afetai Sopoaga, from the Division of Health Sciences at the University of Otago with other tertiary teachers who received Sustained Excellence in Tertiary Teaching Awards. Faumuina was this year’s Prime Minister’s Supreme Award winner and first recipient of the Endorsement for Supporting Pacific Learner Success (13 September 2018). Photo: Ako Aotearoa.

At the national tertiary teaching excellence awards held at Parliament last night, Faumuina Associate Prof Fa'afetai (Tai) Sopoaga was presented with the prime minister's supreme award. New Zealand's top tertiary teacher is a testament to her craft, the University of Otago's vice-chancellor says.
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First Book award for Pauline Smith

Sofia Dawn Raids
The front cover of Pauline Vaeluaga Smith's book Dawn Raid.

Southland author Pauline Smith's first novel, Dawn Raid, has won Best First Book at the 2018 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.
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Otago and Samoa connection still strong

Samoa PM Visit
The Prime Minister of Samoa Hon Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi (right) was welcomed to Otago with a Pacific Kava Ceremony last week. Photos: Sharron Bennett.

The University was honoured to host the Prime Minister last week, in a three-day visit which aimed to develop further the relationship between Otago and the Samoan government.
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Otago Teaching Excellence Awards

2018 Excellence Awards Famuina
Otago Teaching Excellence Award winners (from left) Dr Kristin Hillman, Associate Professor Sheila Skeaff, Dr Rebecca Bird and Faumuina Associate Professor Fa’afetai Sopoaga (March 2018). Photo: Sharron Bennett.

The enthusiasm and passion of four Otago teachers has earned them recognition in this year’s Teaching Excellence Awards, which were presented at a ceremony at the Clocktower Building this afternoon.
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Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu appointed Associate Dean (Pacific)

Welcome Dianne Group Shot
A group shot of Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu's Official Welcome.

Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu has been appointed to the role of Associate Dean (Pacific) at the University’s Wellington campus. Dr Sika-Paotonu is the first Tongan and Pacific biomedical scientist to be appointed to this role within the Division of Health Sciences at Otago.
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Studies provide insights for well-being of Pacific youth

mele Pacific Youth Wellness
Dr Mele Taumoepeau, Associate Dean Pacific Sciences and Senior Lecturer with the Department of Psychology with Pacific Students from the University of Otago.

Two studies are providing invaluable insights into the health and well-being of Pacific youth in New Zealand.
Read the full story featured in He Kitenga 2017...

Dr Allamanda Faatoese researches heart disease

Allamanda He Kitenga 2017
Dr Allamanda Faatoese based at the University of Otago, Christchurch.

Family is a powerful motivation for Dr Allamanda Faatoese’s research into heart disease.
Read the full story featured in He Kitenga 2017.

Dr Christiane Leurquin receives National Order of Merit

Christiane Leurquin
The French Ambassador to New Zealand Florence Jeanblanc-Risler awards Otago Teaching Fellow Dr Christiane Leurquin the French National Order of Merit at a celebration at Te Tumu on Tuesday evening. Photos: Sharron Bennett.

Many years of service to Dunedin’s French community to French culture in the city have earned Otago’s Dr Christiane Leurquin the French National Order of Merit.

Medical equipment and distraction packed into shipping crate

Packing the container at Dunedin’s Icon Depot this week were (from left) Mercy Hospital Facilities Team members Robert Larsen and Tony Reid, Otago’s Barbara Weastell, Icon Logistics’ Hayden Arbuckle, Otago’s Fran Cockerell and Faumuina Faafetai Sopoaga and Icon Logistics’ Raph Gawn. Photos: Sharron Bennett.

Faumuina Associate Professor Faafetai Sopoaga with the distraction bears knitted by staff and students.

A 40 foot shipping container filled with medical equipment, infant car seats and more than 100 distraction teddy bears is heading to Samoa, thanks to an initiative by the University’s Division of Health Sciences.
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Rheumatic fever still a danger

Ramona Tiatia: “The ramifications of heart surgery and a short lifespan are devastating for parents.” Photo/Hagen Hopkins.

Rheumatic fever is a cruel disease that can lead to heart damage and death. Yet we may have missed an important trigger.

Rheumatic fever has a particular taste for Maori and Pasifika kids. It’s still hauling them down – licking their joints and biting their hearts, as the old saying goes – despite a six-year public health campaign that cost $65 million (Woulfe, 2017).
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Reference: Woullfe, C, 2017. 'Fever Pitch', The New Zealand Listener, 29 July - 4 August, pp. 12-20.

Tofilau Nina Kirifi-Alai recognised for contributions to the Pacific community

Tofilau honoured at Pacific Welcome
Tofilau Nina Kirifi-Alai performs an acceptance dance, after receiving a Special Acknowledgement from the Division of Health Sciences, University of Otago for her contributions to the Pacific community.

Tofilau Nina Kirifi-Alai is simultaneously passionate and humble about the work she does as Manager of the University of Otago’s Pacific Islands Centre; indeed she believes so strongly that her work is a team effort that she felt uncomfortable being singled out for a special honour last month.
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National University of Samoa partnership still strong

Samoa Trip Builds Relationships_July2016
After the official Welcoming Ava ceremony from the National University of Samoa — the Vice-Chancellor of the National University of Samoa (second row, seventh from left, in green) is between Otago’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Health Sciences and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine Professor Peter Crampton and Otago’s Division of Health Sciences Associate Dean Pacific Faumuina Associate Professor Faafetai Sopoaga (July 2016).

The universities of Otago and Samoa have had a Memorandum of Understanding since 2004. The memorandum gives Otago students priority for placements in Samoa and creates sabbatical opportunities for staff. A recent trip to Samoa is the latest concrete demonstration of the University’s aim to contribute to the Pacific region and international progress.
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Promotions celebrated at the Annual Pacific Staff Meeting

Pacific Staff Promoted to Senior Lecturers_2015
Congratulations go out to Dr Patrick Vakaoti (Department of Sociology, Gender & Social Work), Dr Mele Taumoepeau (Department of Psychology) and Dr Iati Iati (Department of Politics) at the November 2015 Annual Pacific Staff Meeting on their promotions to Senior Lecturer.

Pacific Peoples Entrance Scholarships Celebration

In the Council Chamber, Mr Victor Rodger, 2016 Burns Fellow, addresses students at the Pacific Peoples Entrance Scholarships Celebration on 7 April 2016.

Mr Rodger chose to read an inspiration piece by Shonda Rhimes from the 2014 Dartford College commencement address.