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USP History students establish networks in NZ

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L to R: Mrs Yara. Gauna-Richmond (Senior Advisor, Ministry of Pacific People, New Zealand) 3rd from left with USP staff and students.

Five postgraduate history students of The University of the South Pacific (USP) visited Auckland, New Zealand from 17-26 August 2018 to collect research data on the impact of gifting to customary practices on living standards in the diaspora.

Eleven Samoan families mostly in South Auckland were interviewed and selected on their known contribution to a customary practice in July 2017.

This was the first international field trip for the university students accompanied by the History course coordinator, Dr. Morgan Tuimalealiifano of the School of Social Sciences and FALE First Year Experience Coordinator, Mr. Kapil Nadan.

Students examined the impact of the diaspora on sustaining a customary practice by documenting the volume of remittances that funded a customary practice. The custom identified was the o’o or customary gifting on the occasion of the ceremonial installation of Samoa’s new Head of State on 21 July 2017.

The study contributes to the growing literature on the symbiotic relationship between culture and the diaspora and to discover how aspects of local culture are being influenced by the diaspora.

The project also provided on and off the field mentoring and enhanced existing mechanisms to develop and deepen research and teaching networks between Pacific Islands-based institutions and Aotearoa-New Zealand.

The project was based in South Auckland, where Pacific Islanders dominate the demographics and it is also where the largest amounts of remittances were gifted to the o’o. The students interviewed twelve families in Auckland and met academic advisors, community and government advisors.

Apart from interviews, students had a guest lecture on 20 August 2018 by Dr. Melani Anae at the Fale Pasifika, Centre of Pacific Studies at the University of Auckland.

Research networks were established between the Pacific Studies department of University of Auckland and the USP team in terms of student exchange, collaborative research, team teaching and marketing of the USP Pacific Studies programme.   

Mr. Kapil Nadan, Faculty of Arts, Law and Education, Coordinator First Year Experience, re-established networks with the First Year Experience Department at the University of Auckland.

Dr. Margaret Henley, Academic Director First Year Experience was humbled by the visit and the sharing of best practices to increase the retention rate of the first year students.

Dr. Henley said “even though we operate at different universities, the challenges students face during their first year of the university life are relatively similar”.

There was also a meeting with Samoa’s Consul General, Afioga Faolotoi Reupena Pogi at the Samoan Consulate General in South Auckland.

The team also shared about USP and its presence in the region when they visited De La Salle College, a prominent secondary school in South Auckland where more than 70 percent of the student population were of Pacific Island origin.

They also visited Auckland University of Technology (AUT) where former USP Registrar Mr. Walter Frazer provided valuable context to the Pacific diaspora in South Auckland. He introduced the demographics of students in AUT and factors that affect student performances at tertiary level.

Furthermore, the students visited the Ministry of Pacific Peoples whose primary vision is to create a collective Pacific in New Zealand.

Mrs. Yara Nagauna-Richmond, a Senior Regional Advisor in the Ministry stated that they would like to work in partnership with the people and institutions in the region towards a regional Pacific community.  

Mr Nadan stated that the fieldtrip afforded USP a valuable opportunity to build and deepen research, teaching and learning networks within the Auckland region which, second to Papua New Guinea, is home to the largest number of Pacific Islanders in the world.

Course coordinator Mr Tuimaleali’ifano remarked that, “We need to work closer with all of our Pacific families in the southern part of the Blue Pasifika. This History fieldtrip is hopefully a modest beginning for many more in the immediate future”.

This news item was published on 17 Sep 2018 02:46:36 pm. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email

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