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USP Honours Five with Honorary Doctorates

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Recipients for the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws (LLD) (From L-R): His Excellency Sir Frank Kabui, Governor-General of Solomon Islands, Honourable Henry Puna, Prime Minister of Cook Islands, and Ms Mere Pulea, Legal Consultant (Ret'd).

The University of the South Pacific (USP) has awarded five (5) outstanding individuals from around the Pacific, the Honorary Degree of Doctor of USP.

The Recipients for theHonorary Degree of Doctor of Laws (LLD) are  His Excellency Sir Frank Kabui, Governor-General of Solomon Islands and former Chancellor of USP,  Honourable Henry Puna, Prime Minister of Cook Islands and former Chancellor of USP and Ms Mere Pulea, Legal Consultant (Ret'd). The recipients for the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters (D.Litt) are Hon. Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa and former Pro-Chancellor of USP and Mr Ikbal Jannif, CEO of Caines Jannif Limited, Chancellor of the Fiji National University and former Pro-Chancellor of USP.

Hon. Fiame Mata’afa was conferred at the Alafua Graduation Ceremony in Samoa on 7 December, while the other Honorees will be conferred in any one of the USP graduation ceremonies to be held in 2019.

As one of the first two (2) Solomon Islanders to graduate with a Law degree and become a qualified lawyer, H.E Sir Frank Kabui stood out as a living example and a role model for young lawyers.

His outstanding role and service to the legal profession in Solomon Islands through the years earned him the trust and respect of the legal profession in Solomon Islands and across the Solomon Islands Public Service.

In April 1980, Sir Frank Kabui was promoted as the Attorney-General, becoming the first Attorney-General in post-independence Solomon Islands. As Attorney-General, Sir Frank Kabui represented the government in court in all civil claims by or against the government.

Sir Frank Kabui became the first Chairman of the Solomon Islands Law Reform Commission in December 1994.

Sir Frank Kabui is said to be a person of integrity and wisdom. During his two (2) terms as Governor General of the Solomon Islands, he performed with passion and dedication in upholding the Constitution of Solomon Islands in its application and spirit and in ensuring that the affairs of the State are conducted within the spirit of the country’s Constitution and Laws. 

In July 2011 he was appointed as the 18th Chancellor of USP for a term ending June 2012.

His Excellency, Sir Frank Kabui is a Solomon Islands and Pacific Islands Statesman who in his entire public service and public life has done exceptionally well for his country.

His life achievements and personal qualities of honour, responsibility, integrity and public service make him a worthy recipient of this regional honour.

Hon. Henry Puna, who worked as a lawyer before entering politics, has an outstanding and dynamic political career spanning fifteen (15) years.

His entry into the political arena as a member of parliament took place in 2004 which resulted in him being elected the leader of the Cook Islands Party two (2) years later in 2006.

Hon. Puna’s leadership and unwavering loyalty to serving his community and Party saw his re-election during the 2010 Cook Islands elections. On November 2010, he was sworn in as the Prime Minister of Cook Islands, a position he continues to hold today.

Hon. Puna has been heralded nationally and regionally as an intelligent, articulate visionary committed to the people of Cook Islands while strongly supportive of regionalism and regional unity.

It was under Hon. Puna’s premiership that the Cook Islands became, in November 2011, a founding member of the Polynesian Leaders Group (PLG), a regional grouping intended to cooperate on a variety of issues including culture and language, education, responses to climate change, and trade and investment.

From 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017, Hon. Puna held the role as the 23rd Chancellor of USP, and as Chancellor he advocated for lifelong learning opportunities meaningful to all Pacific Islands people.

Ms Mere Pulea is qualified in both law and social work, having worked for the Fiji Government and USP. She also worked as an environmental Legal Consultant in the Pacific Region for a number of years.

During the course of her career, Ms Pulea provided legal counsel and expertise to both local and overseas governments, in particular Pacific Island nations, acting as a Consultant in the formulation of their Bills and Acts.

Recipients for the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters (D.Litt) (From L-R): Hon. Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa and Mr Ikbal Jannif, CEO of Caines Jannif Limited.

She also provided technical support in the preparations of legal training programmes for some of the Pacific Island nations.

Ms Pulea has written and published text books, chapters, monographs and reports on Pacific legal systems, family law and environmental law, and has attended international conferences. 

She also has had extensive involvement and experiences in being a member of both local and international Boards and Forums.

Highlights in Ms Pulea’s professional career included her appointment as Pro Vice-Chancellor of USP in 2000, Director and Associate Professor for the Institute of Justice and Applied Legal Studies (IJALS) in 1997, and Adjunct Professor of Law in 2007 at the University.

Hon. Fiame Naomi Mata'afa is a Samoan High Chiefess (matai) and the Deputy Prime Minister of Samoaand has been involved in Samoan politics for more than thirty (30) years, beginning as a Member of Parliament in 1985.

Hon. Fiame Mata’afa, who is the first female member of the Cabinet, is the current Minister for Natural Resources and Environment in Samoa and is one of the longest serving Members of the Samoan Parliament.

On the national level, Hon. Fiame Mata’afa is a keen advocate for women’s development especially in the area of women in politics. She has been a longstanding member and is the current President of the Samoa National Council of Women.

Hon. Fiame Mata’afa also leads Women in Leadership Advocacy (WinLa), a network of women Parliamentarians, Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and Public Service Commissioners in Samoa.

She had also directly and significantly contributed to education in Samoa as she was previously Samoa’s Minister for Education for fifteen (15) years; a period that witnessed major reforms in Samoa’s education sector, including the amalgamation of the Samoa Polytechnic and National University of Samoa.

Hon. Fiame Mata’afa was the Pro-Chancellor and Chair of the USP Council from 2006 to 2012.

Mr Ikbal Jannif, a Fijian businessman, is a visible proponent in the field of higher education and also in the service to the public sector of the country.

He recognises the impact of tertiary education on society and believes in ‘giving back’ to the society. He had served on the USP Council for almost twenty-five (25) years, making him one of the longest serving members of the Council.

He initially joined the USP Council as one of Fiji’s government representatives for a five (5) year period from 1989 to 1994 and from 1994 to 2006, he served as a Co-opted member in the Council. During this period he also took up the responsibility as Chair of the University’s Audit and Risk Committee. 

From 1 July 2012 to 13 April, 2015, Mr Jannif was appointed as the University’s Pro-Chancellor and Chair of the Council.

Mr Jannif has contributed significantly to Fiji in the Public and Private Sectors through his leadership, service and membership in various Boards, Statutory Authorities, Educational Institutions and Civil Society Organisations nationally.

In April 2017, he was awarded the Companion of the Order of Fiji by the President of Fiji, H.E Major-General (Ret’d) Jioji Konrote, for his services.

The Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council, Mr Winston Thompson extended the University’s profound congratulations to the honorees for their outstanding service in the University region and the incredible contributions they have made to better the conditions for our people.

“The University is proud to recognise such service by the conferment of its highest honorary awards to these distinguished individuals,” Mr Thompson said.

This news item was published on 17 Dec 2018 09:57:05 am. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email

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