Red X iconGreen tick iconYellow tick icon
Thursday 17 May 2018 12:48pm

Fiji group image
Joined by almost 100 of his fellow Fijians, Meli Malani's journey to Otago started at an information session held in Fiji last year.

When Meli Malani attended an Otago information evening in Fiji last year – encouraged by his father who is an Otago medical alumnus – he recognised the opportunity to continue a proud family tradition.

Now a Health Sciences First Year student, Meli says the prospect of following in his father's footsteps was a big factor in his decision to study at Otago.

“I've always wanted to become a doctor just like my dad, and also experience the University and Dunedin's culture and atmosphere like he once did,” he says.

Meli's father Jioji gained an MBChB from Otago in 1979, and is now Associate Professor in Internal Medicine at the Fiji National University's College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences (CMNHS).

In the early 1980s Meli's aunty Selaima also gained a MBChB, and later a Postgraduate Diploma in Obstetrics at Otago.

About 100 prospective students and family members joined Meli at the information evening, which was run by International Office Director Jason Cushen in Suva last July.

The event provided practical information on life and study at Otago, and the range of scholarships and support services available to Pacific students at the University.

“The information about how much support there is from all departments, not just Pacific help, really helped my decision. I hope the information evenings are run in future,” Meli says.

Now settled into a college and focusing on his studies, Meli describes life at Otago as “challenging, but enjoyable”.

“I've been surprised at how many Fijians there are in Dunedin! Knowing that there is a big Fijian community has definitely made me feel at home, and not so homesick.”

Associate Dean Pacific (Division of Humanities) Dr Patrick Vakaoti says information evenings are a great way to highlight the value of all that Otago offers; Meli is one of three new undergraduate students who attended the information evening last year.

“Coming to Otago is generational because some parents of current students also studied here and there is much potential for future enrolments. Cost is a major challenge but parents are willing to financially support their children because of the quality of education, student support and holistic life-experience that Otago offers.”

Dr Vakaoti says initiatives that help cover study costs may encourage increased numbers of young Fijians to study at Otago.

“NZAID offers scholarships at all levels of study but very few undergraduate scholarships are available to Fiji citizens; perhaps this will be a targeted area of growth in future.”

The 2017 information evening was followed by the Suva Otago alumni Vakavinavinaka event, held at the New Zealand High Commission Residence.

The Development and Alumni Relations Office will return to Fiji in mid-2018 for several engagement events.

Fiji group waiting image
The 2017 information evening was followed by the Suva Otago alumni Vakavinavinaka event, held at the New Zealand High Commission Residence.

Subscribe to Otago Connection

Subscribe to the Otago Connection e-newsletter or send us your feedback on this issue.

Back to top