Mr Nandi Tuaine Glassie, the former Health Minister of Cook Islands was one of the presenters at the PPGT online seminar hosted for the first time by a regional campus.
Two (2) PhD students from The University of the South Pacific (USP) recently participated in the Pacific Postgraduate Talanoa online seminar series, coordinated by the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) Vakatele Pacific Research Network.
The seminar was hosted for the first time by a regional campus – the Cook Islands Campus - on 5 August (Monday 6 August in Fiji and New Zealand).
Mr Roderick Dixon, Campus Director, stated that “the participation of in-country Cook Islands research students in the Talanoa Series indicated how the University had successfully progressed from teaching to research in the region.
“The Cook Islands Campus currently has four (4) in-country PhD and ten (10) Masters by research candidates. Through the Talanoa, two (2) of these PhD students were able to present their research projects and findings to a wider audience of their peers at six (6) participating NZ Universities,” Mr Dixon remarked.
Professor Vijay Naidu of the School of Government, Development and International Affairs (SGDIA) commented that since it was the first time for a regional campus to host the Talanoa, this was an especially stupendous achievement in the University’s 50th anniversary year.
Presenting his research topic, Health reform in the Cook Islands from 1995 to 2015, Mr Nandi Tuaine Glassie, the former Health Minister of Cook Islands, stated that health reform was one segment of a broader public sector reform and devolution agenda in the country.
The intention of his research, he stated, is to critically evaluate the health reforms and outcomes, and to assess the extent to which they have affected the quality of health service delivery.
“The focus of the research is the relationship between health reforms policies, their implementation and their effects on the health provision for Cook Islanders,” he added.
His research objectives were:
• To examine the effects of public sector reforms on health service delivery;
• To examine trends in budget/human resource allocations on health service delivery;
• To examine specific policies and policy directions on health service delivery; and
• To identify changes in health service delivery (focusing on the Outer Islands).
Methods of data collection included semi-structured questionnaires, in-depth interviews of key persons – “snowballing”, focus group discussions including men, women, senior citizens, and youths and a radio talk-back show.
According to Mr Glassie’s findings, the impact of the public sector reforms on health reforms included the loss of skilled staff, privatisation of services, low staff morale and poor health care, among other issues.
Another PhD student Rerekura Teaurere presented her research topic on The Influence of the Cook Islands tourism accreditation scheme on sustainable solid waste practices in Rarotonga’s accommodation sector.
She noted that the aim of her research was to determine the potential of the Cook Islands tourism accreditation scheme, in enhancing sustainable solid waste practices with regard to direct compliance, beyond compliance and foundation for collaborations.
Her objectives were:
• To identify solid waste practices across Rarotonga’s tourism accommodation sector;
• To determine the influence of the Cook Islands Tourism Accreditation Scheme on sustainable solid waste practices; and
• To assess the Cook Islands Tourism Accreditation Scheme as a foundation for collaborative waste management networks.
The research adopted a longitudinal qualitative methodology with an interpretivist epistemology. Serial semi-structured interviews, serial focus discussions and participant observation were carried out. Participants were interviewed up to three times each and three focus group discussions were held. The data was transcribed and underwent hybrid thematic analysis which then underwent crystallisation for data reliability and credibility.
In her conclusion, Ms Teaurere pointed out potential future directions for sustainable solid waste management in the accommodation sector in Rarotonga including potential future directions for other South Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
The interactive seminars were shown online at the USP Laucala Campus and universities across New Zealand including the University of Auckland, AUT, University of Canterbury, University of Otago, Victoria University of Wellington and University of Waikato.
Approximately 30 postgraduate students and academics participated in the online seminar with a significant amount of questions and the session lasted two hours.
The online seminar presentation was greatly assisted by the staff of the USP ICT Centre and also made possible by enthusiastic supporters of the Cook Islands Campus willing to host the event on a Sunday evening.
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