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Programmes and activities at the Pacific Islands Research & Student Support Unit

Important Programme Dates for Health Sciences First Year Students 2022

Early Orientation Programme (EOP):
18–20 February 2022. Information will be emailed to enrolled HSFY students in December 2021, with further information being sent early January 2022.
Parents Information Session:
For parents accompanying HSFY students, an information session will be held on the first day of EOP (lunch provided).
Health Sciences Fono:
Date TBC. Further information will be provided closer to the time.

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The Pacific Opportunities Programme @ Otago (POPO)

Mentors 2020 image

The POPO is a joint initiative by the University of Otago and the Ministry of Health which helps Pacific students transition from secondary school to University. POPO is designed to equip first year students for the rigors and academic requirements of the Health Sciences First Year (HSFY) Programme. If you are an HSFY student, then POPO is for you.

Read more about the Pacific Opportunities Programme @ Otago

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Early Orientation Programme

It is highly recommended that all Pacific students enrolled in HSFY participate in the Early Orientation Programme (EOP), which commences before the University officially opens.  As part of EOP, students will have the chance to:

  • Have an on-campus experience and tour of the University
  • Attend workshops on academic preparedness, including time management, note-taking and exam prep technique
  • Early course advising: Staff will be on hand to give you accurate, efficient and important course advice
  • Meet the staff at the Pacific Islands Research & Student Support Unit (PIRSSU) and the Pacific Islands Centre
  • Get to know your Peer Educators (senior students in Medicine, Dentistry, Physio, Pharmacy, Medical Laboratory Sciences, and other health-related courses)
  • Have fun, discover Dunedin, make life-long friends, and get all the information you need to succeed in Health Sciences First Year!

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Physio Girls with Chris

POPO PLUS is a mentoring programme for students studying in the Division of Health Sciences Professional courses, Allied Health courses, and the Otago School of Medical Sciences.

This mentoring programme is accompanied by professional development and academic support and runs throughout the academic year.

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Health Sciences Fono


The Health Sciences Fono is run by the PIRSSU team in collaboration with PIHPSA and the local Pacific community.  It's an opportunity for students to learn from health professionals currently in the workplace, and discover more about what it means to be a Pacific health worker.

Read more about the Health Sciences Fono

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Pacific Immersion Programme

The Pacific Immersion Programme (PIP) is the first of its kind in New Zealand. PIP is an experiential training programme that engages the Pacific community in the training of our medical students. Pacific people are over represented in poor health statistics, and it is vital that future doctors understand their context and how best to respond to their health needs. The programme commenced in 2010 and has received high endorsement from both students and staff about its usefulness for students’ professional development.

Medical students in their fourth year of training spend a weekend immersed within the cultures of different Pacific ethnic groups in New Zealand. The students report learning about issues they would not have had the chance to learn in a classroom setting. It is a very unique opportunity for students made possible through the excellent relationship between the University and the Pacific Islands community.

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Pacific Health Research Development Day

The Pacific Health Research Development Day is organised in collaboration with the Health Research Council, and showcases Pacific research and researchers. It is an excellent opportunity for those interested in Pacific health to learn about postgraduate research opportunities.

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Other collaborative activities

PIRSSU participates in a number of joint initiatives each year and have included:

  • Pacific On Campus Experience
  • Hands on Otago

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