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Division of Health Sciences Pacific Strategic Group

The Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Division of Health Sciences chairs the Pacific Strategic Group, which drives strategic direction and development throughout the Division of Health Sciences, University of Otago.

Members of this group are nominated by the Deans of each Faculty or School within the Division.

Pacific Strategic Framework 2022–2030

Health Research Council of New Zealand

The Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) manages the Government's investment in health research. Their vision is to improve the health and quality of life of all New Zealanders.

The primary role of Pacific health research at the HRC is to generate knowledge and understanding of Pacific peoples that will improve their health outcomes.

Pacific Health research (HRC website)

HEDC Student Learning Development

Three PI students on campus imageHEDC Student Learning Development (formerly Student Development Centre) provides free and confidential academic support to students studying at Otago. Whether you are working hard to get a pass mark, seeking to gain a top result, or catching up after a break away from study, all students can benefit from our services:

  • Workshops for undergraduate and postgraduate students
  • Online resources and self-study guides
  • One-to-one appointments with a learning adviser

A range of skill development programmes and great opportunities to develop your employment skills through helping other students.

HEDC Student Learning Development website

Ministry of Education

3 students studying at a table image Ko 'etau ngaue fakatahataha te tau ikuna ai, "working together we will succeed”.

The Ministry of Education's Pacific Islands Polynesian Education Foundation Scholarships (PIPEF) awards 3 types of scholarships to Pasifika students enrolled in tertiary study in New Zealand:

  • Individual (undergraduate) scholarships
  • Postgraduate scholarship
  • Norman Kirk Memorial Trust scholarships

PIPEF was established by an Act of Parliament in 1972 to promote and encourage the better education of Pasifika students and to give financial assistance for that purpose. It's funded by the Norman Kirk Memorial Trust and Ministry of Education.

Pacific Islands Polynesian Education Foundation Scholarships information (Ministry of Education website)

Ministry of Health

Pathology student in a lab imageTalofa lava, malo e lelei, kia orana, taloha ni, fakalofa lahi atu, ni sa bula vinaka, kia ora, welcome.

The Ministry of Health is committed to working with the health and disability sector to improve Pacific peoples' health outcomes and reduce inequalities experienced by Pacific peoples.

Our Pacific Health webpage offers information on the Ministry of Health's work to achieve health and wellbeing for Pacific peoples, including developing the Pacific health workforce.

Pacific Health (Ministry of Health website)

National University of Samoa

Samoan visitors welcomed image

An Otago alumna, Dr Malama Tafuna'i is at the forefront of the new Faculty of Medicine, National University of Samoa, and is leading the coordination of teaching for students, while having a special interest in providing local and regional solutions for Pacific health issues. Dr Tafuna'i is also a member of the Centre for Pacific Health.

Otago's commitment to supporting New Zealand's Pacific Island neighbours has not only been demonstrated through the activities being implemented through the Pacific Strategic Framework, but also through the goodwill of the many Otago staff and medical practitioners who have volunteered to share their expertise and teaching in the region.

Photo from left: Professor Peter Crampton, Leituala Dr Ben Matalavea, Dr Malama Tafuna'i and Faumuina Professor Fa'afetai Sopoaga.

National University of Samoa website

Otago Pacific Academic Staff Caucus (PASC)

Pacific Academic Staff Caucus members imageAn Otago Pacific Academic Staff Caucus will support teaching and research excellence, while staying in tune with Pacific Island peoples' worldviews and aspirations.

PASC also wants to strengthen the University's links with local Pasefika communities—which is one of the University's stated aims—and to raise the profile of Pasefika academics, their research and teaching. That will include developing a pool of Pasefika staff who can provide the media with prompt, expert comment on any public issues affecting Pasefika people. Pasefika academics also aim to give back to their local communities in New Zealand by holding public seminars and workshops about issues of interest.

The Caucus also aims to support research and foster career pathways for Pasefika postgraduate students and postdoctoral fellows, while simultaneously encouraging Pasefika students in general to have a sense of social responsibility and effective citizenship.

The Caucus is open to all Pasefika academics and plans to identify Pasefika champions across all the University's divisions and campuses.

Caucus formalised for Pacific academic staff (Otago Bulletin)

Otago University Students' Association (OUSA)

Pacific students sitting on steps imageOUSA provides members with representation, welfare, advocacy, recreation, fun events, and media. It is completely independent from the rest of the University.

OUSA website

OUSA has a number of activity and social groups for students from many Pacific communities.

OUSA clubs and societies listings

Pacific at Dunedin School of Medicine

Pacific seashell imageSupporting the health of Pacific communities through leading research programmes and the training of Pacific health professionals

Here at the University of Otago we have a vibrant Pacific community. The Dunedin School of Medicine contributes to this community by training the next generation of health professionals, and conducting research to inform Pasifika health policy and programmes.

We proudly celebrate the great people, partners and research which contribute to the goal of good health for Pacific communities.

Pacific at Dunedin School of Medicine website

Pacific Development Office

Here at the Pacific Development Office we monitor and support the 'big picture' Pacific aspirations at our University village. These are described in our Pacific Strategic Framework. This framework is endorsed at the highest levels of the University of Otago and outlines our aspirations for leadership, academic excellence, research, external engagement and operational success through to 2030.

Pacific Strategic Framework 2022–2030 (PDF)

Professor Rose Richards has been appointed Director, Pacific Development (Acting).

Pacific Development Office website

Pacific Islands Centre

As a student of Pacific descent, you will be well supported when you arrive here at Otago. The University welcomes the diversity Pacific people bring to Otago and supports its Pacific students through a range of networks and support systems.

Coordinating all of the support services available to Pacific students is the Pacific Islands Centre, your home away from home while at University. You will be welcomed as a family member and we will make sure that you return to your family and community with your mission accomplished.

Pacific Islands Centre website

Pacific Islands Health Professional Students' Association (PIHPSA)

PIHPSA members with special guest Shiriki Kumanyika imageThe Pacific Islands Health Professional Students' Association (PIHPSA) is an independent student body that supports Pacific students, and encourages networking between students, staff, and working health professionals.

PIHPSA's activities include mentoring, advocacy, organising social events, sending students to conferences, cultural dances, and encouraging research.


Pacific Trust Otago

Young people prepare for a boating activity imageDunedin Pacific Trust Otago is mandated by the Otago Pacific Communities to provide Education, Social, Health and Advocacy Services to all Pacific communities and clients within Otago.

Pacific Trust Otago provides services under an adapted Fonofale (Holistic) Model of Care. Our aim is to support and mentor families to navigate change to build strong and sustainable communities.

Pacific Trust Otago website

POPO Foundation Programme (PFP)

Three Pacific Health Sciences students imageThe Foundation Year course at Otago is a great way to prepare for your first year of university. It also gives you time to adjust to the student life in Dunedin.

Each year, the POPO (Pacific Orientation Programme at Otago) Foundation Scholarship Programme (PFP) supports 10 Pacific students who:

  • Are studying the Foundation Year Health Sciences course, and
  • Intend to apply for the Health Sciences First Year course at Otago, or any other health-related programme

The 10 PFP students will receive a guaranteed place in a University of Otago residential college.

More about the POPO Foundation Programme (Va'a o Tauati website)

Takiala Pacific Health Leadership Network

The Takiala Pacific Health Leadership Network comprises all the Associate Deans Pacific in the Division of Health Sciences. This group provides the strategic leadership for Pacific development and regional engagement for the Division.

Takiala Network members (Va-a o Tautai website)

Te Tumu, School of Māori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies

Te Tumu website image of a waka in a landscape image Our multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary staff, students, teaching and research is reflected in our name Te Tumu, a pan-Polynesian term which is often used in Māori in the phrase te tumu herenga waka—the post for tying up canoes. We liken ourselves as a foundation which staff, students and guests can anchor themselves to for the duration of their stay at the University of Otago.

We hope that you, like many others who have also done, choose Te Tumu as a place to become critically aware of the world around you and gain the skills to actively participate in that world to change it for the betterment of all Māori, Pacific and Indigenous peoples.

Te Tumu website

Tupua Tamasese Meaole National Hospital (Samoa)

Samoan visitors welcomed imageA graduate of Otago, Leituala Dr Ben Matalavea is now the Clinical Director of Tupua Tamasese Meaole National Hospital in Samoa, and the private physician for the Samoa Head of State. He has worked both in New Zealand and Samoa and provides leadership for workforce and capacity building in Samoa.

Otago's commitment to supporting New Zealand's Pacific Island neighbours has not only been demonstrated through the activities being implemented through the Pacific Strategic Framework, but also through the goodwill of the many Otago staff and medical practitioners who have volunteered to share their expertise and teaching in the region.

Photo from left: Professor Peter Crampton, Leituala Dr Ben Matalavea, Dr Malama Tafuna'i and Faumuina Professor Fa'afetai Sopoaga.

Pacific Strategic Framework 2022–2030 (PDF)

Va'a o Tautai – çentre for Pacific Health

Va'a o Tautai logo graphic Va'a o Tautai – Centre for Pacific Health provides a range of academic programmes and support for Pacific students across all Otago campuses. It leads the way in Pacific health teaching and research.

Va'a o Tautai is led by Faumuina Professor Fa'afetai Sopoaga.

The University of Otago Pacific Strategic Framework 2022-2030 is the key document that underpins the work being undertaken within Va'a o Tautai, as well as guiding Pacific engagements across the University.

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