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POPO: The Pacific Orientation Programme at Otago


Funded by the Ministry of Health, the Pacific Orientation Programme at Otago (POPO) runs annually in Semester One. POPO is an 11-week programme, designed for Health Sciences First Year (HSFY) students who want to work in health-related professions.

POPO helps students engage with, and benefit from, all available support services. This gives them the best possible chance to succeed at university.

POPO nurtures the aspirations of students, helping them to 'capture the moment' for success.

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The POPO name and its origins

Not only does POPO stand for the Pacific Orientation Programme at Otago, but it's also the Samoan word for coconut.

In this context, POPO has three meanings:

  • To nurture
  • To capture the moment
  • The old coconut, of which a young plant or new growth emerges

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POPO activities

Early Orientation Programme

The Early Orientation Programme runs for three days the week prior to the University's orientation week. Students stay at St Margaret's College where they get the chance to meet other students who are studying Health Sciences First Year. During the Programme, students interact with key support staff from the Division of Health Sciences, meet their Peer Educators (who lead the weekly POPO Mentoring sessions), and are course advised and approved.

The programme also includes:

  • Guest speakers from the Health Sciences field
  • Mystery bus tour of Dunedin
  • Campus tours
  • One-on-one course advice and approval
  • Information about the different careers in Health

POPO Mentoring Programme

Part of the 11 week programme is weekly mentoring sessions. Students are organised into groups and the Peer Educators (PEs) of each group run activities to assist in the transition to university study. All PEs are senior Pacific health sciences students, who have undertaken leadership training to prepare them for the role.

POPO Academic Programme

POPO students have tutorials for all subjects organised for them by the Pacific Island Research and Student Support Unit (PIRSSU). The tutors are usually lecturers or teaching fellows from the Health Sciences First Year papers.

Monitoring Pacific students' academic performance

As part of the POPO programme, the PIRSSU monitors the academic performance of Pacific students.

Any concerns are addressed early to ensure students receive appropriate academic and general support.

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Further information about POPO

Contact one of the team to learn more about POPO and to get involved with any of the above POPO activities:


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