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Monday 5 September 2022 2:34pm

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OTSA and OKISA co-hosted a climate change awareness fundraiser.

The Otago Tongan Students' Association (OTSA) and the Otago Kiribati Islands Students' Association (OKISA) co-hosted a climate change awareness fundraiser.

Te Runga Faiva was the name of the event, which blends the Kiribati words 'te runga' meaning 'large gathering for a special event' and the Tongan word 'faiva', which means 'dance'.

A total of $2,480 (NZD) was raised at the event, and all proceeds will go to '350 Pacific', a youth-led organisation that supports frontline communities affected by climate change.

It was a gold-coin-entry event and further donations were made by the audience during each performance number.

OKISA Cultural Officer Josery Rereiti was a choreographer and one of the main organisers for the event, and says that ensuring students' studies were not impacted by rehearsals was a priority for him.

He says OKISA is “very fortunate to have worked with OTSA on this event since we are a small association which has just been established last year”.

It was the shared goal of climate change prevention and awareness that united these student groups, as Pacific nations have been amongst the first to experience the adverse affects of climate change.

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Eight student associations and one community group each choreographed a dance that was related to the theme of climate change.

“One of the many ways that climate change has affected Tonga and Kiribati is the rising sea levels,” Josery says.

Due to the size and elevation of Kiribati and Tonga, the OKISA Cultural Officer says “rising sea levels cause major problems to the people and land of these islands.

Eight student associations and one community group each choreographed a dance that was related to the theme of climate change.

“The songs we performed are songs which talk about fishing, the ocean and the islands,” Josery says.

“These are things that we Kiribati people use to identify ourselves and with climate change, we could possibly lose it all.”

Josery says he is “very grateful” to Te Rōpū Māori, the University of Otago Pacific Islands Students Association, the Otago Cook Islands' Student Association, the Otago Niuean Students' Association, the Otago Melanesian Islands Students' Association, the Otago Samoan Students' Association and the Tuvaluan student community for participating in this event.

“I am always thrilled to witness the display of culture in Dunedin.”

OTSA Vice-President and Cultural Representative Kalisi Makoni says the event began as “a small idea for a fundraiser that would bring everyone together”.

“Our association executives at OTSA came together and decided we should partner with a smaller student association on this event,” she says.

“Other association executives came on-board and it just grew and grew. It started so small and ended so big.”

Kalisi says she is grateful to the OKISA and the OTSA executives for “bringing this vision to life”.

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