The University of Otago has a unique and enduring history of providing a highly-qualified workforce in the health professions, and in leading research and academic advancement in the areas of health and biomedical science. We offer a range of support services to nurture emerging Pacific researchers.
Pacific Islands Research and Student Support Unit
Faumuina Professor Fa'afetai Sopoaga is the Director of the Pacific Islands Research and Student Support Unit (PIRSSU), her role is to recruit, retain, and ensure a high completion rate for Pacific students in the Division. The support services provided for Pacific students is guided through evidence from the close monitoring and evaluation of all support services. She is responsible for monitoring the Divisional response to the Pacific Strategic Framework goals, provides guidance for engagement with Pacific communities and led developments which resulted in the establishment of the Otago Pacific Academic Caucus.
Her research interests are in health workforce capacity building, transitioning students to higher education and Pacific health curriculum. She is currently undertaking doctoral studies on 'The health and wellbeing of Pacific students in Higher Education'.
The Pacific Islands Research and Student Support Unit (PIRSSU) looks after approximately 350 Pacific students from New Zealand and the Pacific region studying in the Division of Health Sciences. We offer excellent training in health professional and allied health programmes, nurture successful research careers, and offer quality pastoral care in an inclusive cultural environment. We look forward to welcoming you to our Pacific community in Health Sciences.
Centre for Pacific Health
The Centre for Pacific Health was launched in 2018 to house the research and teaching activities of the Va’a o Tautai. It is now home to a dedicated team of Pacific and non-Pacific researchers working in areas of importance to Pacific communities in New Zealand and internationally.
Va’a o Tautai
Alongside research, the Centre for Pacific Health also provides leadership in teaching Pacific health across Health Sciences professional programmes, the Bachelor of Health Sciences, and other areas of health curricula where Pacific perspectives are important:
Pacific Research Protocol
The Pacific Research Protocol's purpose is to outline suggested protocols for University researchers in relation to research involving Pacific peoples in the Otago-Southland region, the rest of New Zealand, and, more generally, in the islands of Oceania.
Pacific Research Protocol (PDF 402 KB)
Pacific Islands support staff at the Division of Health Sciences
There are Pacific support staff throughout the University of Otago's Division of Health Sciences. Please feel free to contact them directly:
List of Division of Health Sciences contacts
Alternatively, you are welcome to contact the Pacific Islands Research and Student Support Unit office.
Va'a o Tautai
Va'a o Tautai provides a range of academic programmes and support for Pacific students, leads the way in relation to Pacific health teaching and research, and provides strategic leadership for Pacific developments and regional engagement for the Division of Health Sciences.
Va'a o Tautai is led by Faumuina Professor Fa'afetai Sopoaga.
The University of Otago Pacific Strategic Framework 2013-2020 is the key document that underpins the work being undertaken within Va’a o Tautai, as well as guiding Pacific engagements across the University.