Honourable Henry Puna, USP Chancellor and Prime Minister of Cook Islands.
USP is the best example of regional cooperation, said Honourable Henry Puna, USP Chancellor and Prime Minister of Cook Islands.
Hon. Puna expressed these sentiments at a dinner hosted by the University for Council members in Majuro, Republic of Marshall Islands on 25 May 2017.
He highlighted that those who are connected to the University should be proud of being part of the USP family because USP is the only success story of regional cooperation in the Pacific.
“In education, USP is a shining example of what we can do as a region because education is of vital importance to all of us. It does not depend on our circumstances. We all need education to advance ourselves and this is where USP has come in and filled that need for all of us in the Pacific,” Hon. Puna said.
He reminded the Council Members of how lucky they are to be the drivers of this ‘success story’ of the region. “You are filling the challenge that faces our people throughout the region,” he said.
Hon. Puna further stated that these challenges are two-fold. One is to educate the Pacific people so that they can keep pace with the developments of the global world. Secondly and more importantly, it allows the people to meet the challenges of maintaining their identities as special people of the Pacific and stressed on “our traditions, language and culture.”
Hon. Puna expressed his appreciation to the Council and management of USP for their assistance in having the Cook Islands’ Maori language as part of the University’s offerings, which will start soon.
“We thank you for fulfilling that need of my country and we will be forever grateful to your assistance,” Hon. Puna said.
As part of the dinner, Hon. Puna was also hosted to a farewell by the University as his term as Chancellor comes to an end in June 2017.
Being the Chancellor of USP, Hon. Puna said was a real honour and privilege together with a humbling experience.
“I think of the chancellorship as being part of a relay of twelve (12) runners where we take terms to take the baton and run as hard and as fast as we can and I am pleased that when I had the baton there have been some major developments of real pride to all of us and opening of the new campus here in Majuro is one of them,” Hon. Puna said.
Talking about his experiences at the University’s graduations, Hon. Puna said that it was always a happy occasion to see the joys on graduates’ faces when they receive their certificates, and added that “it is one of the biggest joys of this job and I will always treasure it.”
The outgoing Chancellor particularly shared a memorable experience as part of the Tonga Campus graduation where he conferred the award to a 75-year-old grandmother, and highlighted that it certainly gives truth to the old saying that ‘learning never ceases’.
Hon. Puna acknowledged the Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council, Mr Winston Thompson and said that during his term as the Chancellor, he always looked up to Mr Thompson for his guidance and support.
Cook Islands, Hon. Puna said was one of the founding members of USP and have always been a strong supporter of the University.
He further informed the members of the Council that in a recent survey done in Cook Islands on where the younger generation would want to study if they were given a scholarship, sixty per cent (60%) of the students preferred to study at home – which, he highlighted, was very heartwarming.
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