News @ USP

Student groups share excitement in meeting the Royals

Back to News »

Mr Iese (3rd from left) with the HRH The Duke of Sussex and his PACE-SD team members at the Laucala Campus.

He never thought he would one day meet royalty, let alone be chosen to introduce His Royal Highness, the Duke of Sussex Prince Harry to his group when HRH visited the Laucala Campus on 24 October 2018.

Samoan native, Tuvalu citizen and Research Fellow at USP’s Pacific Centre for Sustainable Development (PACE-SD) Viliamu Iese could not believe his ears when told by Dr Morgan Wairiu, PACE-SD Deputy Director that he would lead the student group to meet Prince Harry.

“At first I had mixed feelings and was over the moon and humbled at the same time. I couldn’t wait to tell my families and friends,” he shared.

He asked his sister in Samoa to send him a Samoan famous ulafala or pandanus garland to show his Samoan descent, an orator matai in his family.

“I was chosen by our team to first welcome Prince Harry and introduce HRH to the group so I needed the mana of my family and country to be with me hence my request for the garland,”
he shared.

On the left is David Merrick with the Duchess of Sussex who later meets his FALE group. (right)

“I also had the "fau" from Tuvalu - the head garland. They empowered me, connected me to my communities, my families, the Pacific - my Blue Pacific, Blue Earth, my home and my identity,” he said.

He noted that in terms of preparations, they had a good team.

“In PaCE-SD, we are very proud of what we do, our work, high standard of commitments, Pacific identity, culture and we called ourselves - The Shining Stars.”

“The biggest question we tried to tackle was what will be the frame of our message to Prince Harry? So we had many group meetings, discussing ideas, approaches, strategies, displays, order of words, pictures and what we were going to wear,” he said.

Mr Ese acknowledged Professor Elisabeth Holland, Director Pace-SD and Dr Morgan who assisted them to frame and weave their ideas together.

At the end the PACE-SD team used a three-fold approach:

1. Focus on emotions and facts, impacts of climate change on PICs, youth, children, women, men, communities livelihood, food security, ecosystems which were all presented via posters;

2. Actions to address climate change including putting a stop to the emissions of GHG and capacity building where the role of PACE-SD came in, in terms of its programmes including Postgraduate diploma in Climate Change, Master of Science in Climate Change and PhD Climate Change. All these were presented via brochures; and

3. This approach focused on the leadership of Pacific leaders, the common Blue Ocean identity and the commitment to switch to renewable energy. Targets from PICs Nationally Determined Contribution (NDCs) were documented and put in a poster. This included Professor Holland’s vision of double hulled canoes - one hull, excellent modern science and technologies and knowledge, while the other hull, our traditional knowledge, traditional systems wisdom and governance. Together they support our canoes, our communities and move our resilience forward.

“At the end of it all, we wanted to have fun and laugh with the Prince. We Pacific people are happy people, fun people and always smiling and laughing freely people. We also did our Climate Change Snake and Ladder game to explain the impacts of climate change on Pacific people and did a "kaila" at the end after the photo to confirm our Pacific identity,” he explained.

As for David Eggie Merrick, being part of the Faculty of Arts, Law and Education (FALE) youth group to meet the Duchess of Sussex Her Royal Highness Meghan, was a historical moment.

“I was excited to meet HRH knowing that she was a model, a movie star and now the Duchess. We got to meet and discuss informally in an open environment with the Duchess on issues facing Pacific youths and how youths are taking necessary steps to address their own issues. It was a chance in a lifetime to have the Duchess standing beside me amongst my youth group,” he stated.

“The Duchess was a bit interested in our group because of our involvement with youth across the region and she questioned us wanting to know more about us and what we are doing with youths in our respective countries.

“One other thing she got interested in with was our display model – Pacific youths which make up modern culture. Our display portrayed USP youths that are upskilling themselves to face the modern changes but at the same time preserve their culture that is very valuable to them,” he added.

Mr Merrick thanked his Supervisor Dr. Sara Amin at the School of Social Science, Dr Yoko and Dr Akanisi Kedrayate, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Law and Education (FALE) for the once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity.

He was nominated because of my past experience working with youths as youth leader, his current involvement with students at USP as Vice President of USPSA and his current Master’s Thesis research which is looking at the impact of unemployment on Vanuatu youths.

“With great respect I would like to applaud the girls in the team for their creativity and spearheading the preparation of our display – the Pacific youth model,” he added.

This news item was published on 31 Oct 2018 03:20:25 pm. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email

News @ USP


Disclaimer & Copyright | Contact Us |
© Copyright 2004 - 2019. All Rights Reserved.
The University of the South Pacific
Laucala Campus, Suva, Fiji
Tel: +679 323 1000