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Meet some of our Pacific academic and professional staff

Division of Sciences

Dr Edmond FehokoDr Edmond Fehoko headshot

Dr Fehoko is the first Pacific lecturer to work in the Department of Human Nutrition, and his hope is to both offer fresh perspectives on human nutrition through a Pacific lens and to support staff in understanding Pacific worldviews.

Making history as the first Pacific lecturer is an achievement Dr Fehoko largely accredits to his father, who passed away due to COVID-19 in 2022.

Read more about Dr Edmond Fehoko

Division of Health Sciences

Faumuina Associate Professor Faafetai SopoagaFaumuina Professor Faafetai Sopoaga

Faumuina Professor Faafetai (Tai) Sopoaga is the Division of Health Sciences' Associate Dean (Pacific). Her interests include Pacific health, Pacific workforce development, Pacific students, and Pacific communities.

Read more about Faumuina Professor Faafetai Sopoaga and the HRC Career Development Awards

Kiki Maoate Bio 1Dr Kiki Maoate

Christchurch paediatric surgeon Dr Kiki Maoate is the University of Otago, Christchurch's first Associate Dean, Pacific. Kiki was born in the Cook Islands and educated at the University of Otago and is a Senior Lecturer in Paediatric Surgery at the University of Otago, Christchurch, and an Advisor on Paediatric Surgery, Fiji School of Medicine.

Read why Dr Kiki Maoate's role as Associate Dean, Pacific was established

Dianne Sika-Paotonu thumbnailDr Dianne Sika-Paotonu

Commencing work in December 2017 Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu is the new Associate Dean Pacific at the University of Otago Wellington campus.  Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu comes to us from Victoria University of Wellington and will also work as an academic scientist based in the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine.

Dianne welcomes you to Pacific at University of Otago, Wellington

Associate Professor Daryl Schwenke thumbnailProfessor Daryl Schwenke

Professor Daryl Schwenke is with the Department of Physiology, Otago School of Medical Sciences.  Professor Schwenke's research interests include sympathetic excitation following acture myocardial infarction and regulation of the pulmonary vasculature.

Read more about the Schwenke Lab

Division of Humanities

Michelle Schaaf bioDr Michelle Schaaf

Dr Michelle Schaaf is the Associate Dean Pacific in the Division of Humanities and a Senior Lecturer with Te Tumu School of Māori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies. In 2011 Michelle became the first staff member at the University of Otago School of Maori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies to graduate with an Otago doctorate in Pacific studies. Michelle's research interests include Pacific Islands women and education, and the representation of Polynesian female body image with particular reference to sport in New Zealand.

Read more on Dr Michelle Schaaf's profile page

Professor Patrick VakaotiPatrick Vakaoti thumbnail.jpg

Patrick Vakaoti is a Professor in Te Tumu School of Māori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies. Patrick is interested in sociological and community development work with young people. He researches in Fiji and the Pacific region exploring youth issues like street-frequenting and political participation. His other interests include child protection and indigenous community development.

Read more on Professor Patrick Vakaoti's profile page

Otago Business School

Ms Esmay Lemalu-EteuatiEsmay Lemalu-Eteuati thumbnail

Esmay is the Associate Dean – Pacific, appointed to the Division of Commerce in December 2017. Her role is to provide leadership and strategic advice in the Business School on all matters relating to the University’s Pacific Strategic Framework 2022–2030. She is based in the Divisional Office with her team of Pacific student support staff.

Professional Staff

Tofilau Nina Kirifi-Alai outside the Auckland Centre thumbnailTofilau Nina Kirifi Alai BA LLB

Tofilau Nina Kirifi-Alai is the Pacific Community Engagement Manager. The Pacific Community Engagement Manager is based in Auckland and is responsible for building relationships with Pacific communities in the largest Polynesian city in the world. Previously, Tofilau was the Manager of the Pacific Islands Centre. In 2002 Tofilau was appointed as the centre's manager on an 18 month fixed term contract and shifted to Dunedin from Auckland with her family. She planned to move to Samoa when the term was up, but loved the job so much she only left in 2020.

Tofilau's contact details in Auckland

Kitiona Pasene thumbnailMr Kitiona Pasene BPhED

Kitiona completed his Bachelor of Physical Education at the University of Otago, he is a School Liaison Officer and visits schools in Auckland, Northland (Whangarei),Central North Island (Coromandel, Waikato, Bay of Plenty). The University of Otago's Schools' Liaison team has an office located in the Auckland Centre which is where Kitiona is based.

For more information about University of Otago Schools' Liaison team

Mr Johnny Nu'uMr Johnny Nu'u headshot

Johnny is the Warden at Studholme College and responsible for the overall running of the college. Johnny was a student at the University of Otago and he has a law degree, he also brings his knowledge of college life from when he was an undergraduate student here.

Visit the Studholme College website

Mr Eric NabalagiMr Eric Nabalagi headshot

Eric is the Deputy Warden at Caroline Freeman College. Eric came to New Zealand from Fiji when he was 20 and completed a Bachelor of Commerce here at the University of Otago. Eric has considerable past work experience in a variety of roles ranging from community youth leader, Dunedin Pacific Youth Co-ordinator and University of Otago Pacific Students Transition Officer.

Read more about Eric Nabalagi

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