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2021 Pacific news and vents

Wellington Pacific graduate featured on Otago Bulletin Board

Friday 7 May 2021

Adam image
Adam Faatoese with his son Leon (5) and partner Ivanah.

After starting University not knowing what he wanted to do, Adam Faatoese is leaving as a doctor.

He has a simple explanation for why he ended up choosing Medicine: “I wanted to do something that really helped my community and specifically, our Pasifika people.”

Read the full story on the Otago Bulletin Board page:

Aspiring GP wants to help his community

University of Otago Wellington Pacific welcome lunch

The University of Otago Wellington Pacific Office hosted a welcome lunch for University of Otago Wellington Pacific Students and staff. This welcome lunch provided an opportunity for the University of Otago Wellington Pacific staff and students to come together and connect. We were also joined by our Pacific clinicians from CCDHB.

UOW Associate Dean (Pacific), Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu with Pacific Staff, students and CCDHB clinicians 2021 image
University of Otago Wellington Associate Dean (Pacific), Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu with Pacific Staff, students and CCDHB clinicians.

University of Otago Wellington farewell to Professor Harlene Hayne, Vice-Chancellor, University of Otago

On 5 March 2021 a Poroporoaki was held on the Wellington campus to farewell Professor Hayne, where gifts were presented on behalf of Māori and Pacific artisans and counterparts from the University of Otago Wellington. These gifts were presented to Professor Hayne to pass on to the First Nations in Perth, where she will take up her new role.

Toa Waaka, Rautaki Hononga Māori, Māori Strategic Framework Project Manager, presented Professor Hayne with two kete matauranga, blue and gold hand woven flax baskets containing treasures in the form of a package of three specially designed cards featuring whakatauki proverbs.

Associate Dean (Pacific) Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu presented Professor Hayne with a decorative Tapa or Ngatu (as called in Tongan), on behalf of University of Otago Wellington Pacific staff, students and wider Pacific communities, to be gifted to the Indigenous peoples of Perth in Western Australia. This decorative Tapa/Ngatu holds important cultural significance and symbolises the importance and value of Respect, Reciprocity and Relationships. Tapa/Ngatu is made from the bark of the Mulberry tree and requires significant labour and painstaking processes to produce which adds to its value. In Tonga, Tapa/Ngatu is considered koloa (treasure) and can be gifted in respect and honour of persons or during weddings and funerals and other important ceremonial events, with each design containing significant cultural value and significance. The poroporoaki and presentation of the Tapa/Ngatu with other gifts, also provided an opportunity for Dr Sika-Paotonu to extend sincere thanks and gratitude to Professor Hayne for the Pacific related work that had been undertaken and progressed at the University of Otago under her leadership as Vice-Chancellor.

UOW Associate Dean (Pacific) Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu presenting Professor Harlene Hayne with a decorative tapa image 2021
University of Otago Wellington Associate Dean (Pacific) Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu presenting Professor Harlene Hayne with a decorative tapa/ngatu to be gifted to the Indigenous peoples of Perth.

Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu, Professor Harlene Hayne and Mr Toa Waaka 2021 image
Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu, Professor Harlene Hayne and Mr Toa Waaka.

Acknowledgement and farewell for Tofilau Nina Kirifi-Alai, the University of Otago Pacific Islands Centre Manager

The outgoing manager for the Pacific Islands Manager, Tofilau Nina Kirifi-Alai was thanked and acknowledged in Dunedin as she undertakes her new role as the University of Otago Pacific Community Engagement Manager and based in Auckland. Tofilau has been the head of the Pacific Islands Centre since the year 2002 and holds the high chief title of Tofilau from her village of Iva in Savaii, Samoa. The farewell was well attended by many people including our University’s leadership staff, our Pacific leadership within the University and also our students who attended to honour and farewell Tofilau.

We would like to wish Tofilau the very best in Auckland!

Tofilau Nina Kirifi-Alai and Professor Helen Nicholson image 2021
Tofilau Nina Kirifi-Alai and Professor Helen Nicholson.

Pacific students’ performance for Tofilau Nina Kirifi-Alai 2021 image
Pacific students’ performance for Tofilau Nina Kirifi-Alai.

Hon Aupito William Sio extending his thanks to Tofilau via video stream image 2021
Minister for Pacific Peoples and Courts; Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs, Education (Pacific Peoples), Justice, and Health (Pacific Peoples) Hon. Aupito William Sio extending his sincere thanks and gratitude to Tofilau via video stream.

The Rt Hon Helen Clark presents on “The global response to the COVID-19 pandemic” at the University of Otago Wellington Public Health Summer School

On the evening of the 1 February 2021, the Rt Hon. Helen Clark was the guest speaker that opened the Public Health Summer School delivering a presentation on “The global response to the COVID-19 pandemic” and also her work with the World Health Organisation (WHO). This presentation was held via Zoom and in person in the Nordmeyer Lecture Theatre here at the University of Otago Wellington.

Hon Clark was the 37th Prime Minister of Aotearoa New Zealand, serving three consecutive terms from 1999 to 2008. She later became the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator for two terms, from 2009 to 2017, the first and only woman to lead the organisation. In 2019, she became patron of the Helen Clark Foundation. Hon. Clark is an active chair and board member of a number of global organisations, and currently co-chairs the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response.

For more information about this presentation and to watch this talk

Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu with the Rt Hon. Helen Clark image 2021
Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu with the Rt Hon. Helen Clark.

University of Otago Division of Health Sciences Associate Dean (Pacific) Appointment

On the 26 February 2021, Dr Xaviour Walker was formally welcomed and acknowledged as the new Associate Dean (Pacific) for the Health Sciences Division. Dr Walker is of Tongan heritage and an Otago Medical School graduate who has returned from overseas to take up this Pacific leadership role. Dr Walker has envisioned that in this role, the aim is to get some of the Pacific graduates that have graduated from the University of Otago in order to increase our capacity with teaching, research and working with Pacific students. Dr Walker takes over from the previous Associate Dean (Pacific) for the Health Sciences Division, Faumuina Professor Fa’afetai Sopoaga who has worked tirelessly on behalf of Pacific over the years. We wish to congratulate Dr Walker the very best in this role and acknowledge Faumuina Professor Sopoaga for her commitment to Pacific at the University of Otago. We look forward to future collaborations!

For more information about Dr Walker’s appointment

Dr Xaviour Walker with family, Professor William Levack and Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu image 20211
Dr Xaviour Walker with family, Professor William Levack and Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu.

Dr Xaviour Walker with family and staff image 2021
Dr Xaviour Walker with family, Professor Richard Barker (Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Division of Sciences) , Professor William Levack, Dr Losa Moata’ane (Associate Dean (Pacific) Division of Sciences) and Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu.

University of Otago Acting Vice-Chancellor appointment

Professor Helen Nicholson has been appointed the new Acting Vice-Chancellor for the University of Otago while the recruitment process takes place.

“Professor Nicholson graduated as a medical doctor from the University of Bristol in 1979, has held a variety of leadership positions at Otago, including the Dean of the Otago School of Medical Sciences and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International).

She came to Otago from the University of Bristol in 2000 as a full professor.

We are looking forward to working together with Professor Nicholson.

Professor Helen Nicholson and Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu image 2021
Professor Helen Nicholson and Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu.

Pasifika Medical Association (PMA) Scholarship Awards

On the 9 December 2020, the Pasifika Medical Association held it’s Scholarship Awards night. PMA is a network that is comprised of Pacific health professionals that work collaboratively to strengthen our Pacific health workforce capacity and capability to meet the health needs of our Pacific peoples in the Pacific Region. This event was held at the Cordis Hotel in Auckland and was attended by the scholarship recipients and their families amongst other people. Dr Lupe Taumoepeau of Tongan descent, the first and only female vascular surgeon in Australasia delivered the keynote address.

There were six scholarships presented, worth a combined total of $90,000 for undergraduate and postgraduate studies. The scholarships have been named after lifetime members of the PMA group who have explicitly demonstrated outstanding service for our Pacific communities. The Papali’i Dr Semisi Ma’ia’i University of Otago Scholarship was awarded four Pacific students with one student, Ms Sophie Papali’i, currently in her last year of medical school, here at the University of Otago Wellington. Congratulations to all the PMA Scholarship recipients!

For more information on the PMA Scholarship Awards

Sophie Papali'i and her father image
Joe Sauvao and his daughter, Sophie Papali’i.

Sophie Papali'i and her mother image
Tania Sauvao and her daughter, Sophie Papali’i.

Dr Lupe Taumoepeau and Sophie Papali'i image
Dr Lupe Taumoepeau and Sophie Papali’i.

University of Otago Wellington Inaugural Summer Studentship Poster Showcase

On the 29 January 2021, the University of Otago Wellington held its inaugural Summer Studentship Poster showcase. More than 30 students (mainly medical) participated by presenting their research posters to a judging panel comprised of scientists, clinicians and researchers. The overall winner was Matisse Uluilelata who won first prize for her poster, with highly commended prizes going to Katie Reed, Matthew Latta, Michaela Walker and Molly Dore.

Matisse Uluilelata’s poster topic was “Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis: Perceptions and awareness among whānau and health care professionals”, supervised by Jeannine Stairmand (Department of Public Health).

The highly commended posters were as follows:

  • Katie Reed “BPG Reformulation for Rheumatic Fever prevention”, supervised by Dianne Sika-Paotonu (Dean’s Department and Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine)
  • Matthew Latta “Improving the carbon footprint of cataract surgery across Wellington region”, supervised by Jesse Gale (Senior Clinical Lecturer)
  • Michaela Walker (Stigma on the acute mental health wards: Us and them, mad or bad, and pejorative views on psychiatry), supervised by Gabrielle Jenkin (Department of Public Health)
  • Molly Dore (Response to Mirena treatment for early stage endometrial cancer), supervised by Claire Henry (Department of Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Women’s Health)

Congratulations to our Summer Studentship Poster Showcase winners!

Matisse Uluilelata – Overall Winner for the University of Otago Wellington Summer Studentship Poster showcase
Matisse Uluilelata – Overall Winner for the University of Otago Wellington Summer Studentship Poster showcase.

Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu with Ms Katie Reed image
Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu with Ms Katie Reed.

Summer Studentship Poster showcase highly commended winners image 2020
Summer Studentship Poster showcase highly commended winners.