USP Cook Islands Campus

Cook Islands Campus

Government readies an enhanced stimulus plan in response to Covid - 19

The Cook Islands Government announced on Sunday 24 May the second phase of the Cook Islands Economic Response Plan to covid-19.


There are three themes to the $76 million plan with a diverse range of initiatives. Under the 'Recovery' theme Government has announced that there will be:

  • A training subsidy and grant funding for interested businesses;
  • 'Fee's Free' initiative to encourage the Cook Islands workforce to upskill including a waiver of fees during Semester 2 at the Cook Islands Tertiary Training Institute and a select number of certificates offered by The University of the South Pacific between June and December 2020.

The Certificates that will be 'fee's free' at The University of the South Pacific for this coming Winter Flexi School are as follows:

  1. Certificate IV in Accounting, comprising of 6 courses;
  2. Certificate IV in Project Management Practice, comprising of 4 courses; and
  3. Certificate Course in Cyber Forensics and Cyber Laws with the Centre of Excellence in Information Technology.

Applications initially closed 22 May 2020, however in light of the announcement made by the Cook Islands Government 24 May 2020, USP have extended the deadline to Friday 29 May, 2020.

To apply for the Certificate IV in Accounting and the Certificate in Project Management Practice you will need to complete the application form, taking note to supply the documents in the 'checklist' on Page 1. Completed applications can be submitted to Tureheni File on tureheni.file(at) or by delivery to our office between the hours of 8:30am to 5:00pm.

To apply for the Certificate Course in Cyber Forensics and Cyber Laws you will need to complete the application form, taking note to supply the documents in the 'checklist' on Page 1. Completed applications can be submitted to the CEIT team on ci-ceit(at) or by delivery to our office between the hours of 10:00am to 5:00pm

More information on the aforementioned programmes can be found here.

Stay tuned for more news regarding the 'fee's free' scheme for Semester 2!

Stay home and go far with USP Cook Islands!

While others were out doing the things that teenagers do, Tiamarama Tuivaga was studying hard sometimes long into the night, with her parents by her side.


Understanding that hard work and sacrifice equals success means the 18-year-old can stay home in Rarotonga to complete her university studies.

The 2019 year 13 Tereora College student did English, calculus, statistics, physics and biology and knew she had already achieved NCEA level 3 with Merit Endorsement before she had even stepped into her exams.

For the young woman who has also represented the Cook Islands in the national soccer team, preparation was key.

“I didn’t want to go into my exams stressed because I don’t like to put myself under unnecessary pressure to perform well but I was confident that my results would be good,” she said.

Having passed NCEA level 3 prior to sitting exams and subsequently University Entrance, means that Tuivaga has been accepted into a three-year accounting degree at the University of the South Pacific starting next month.

Given the subjects she studied, she said she looked at the option of physiotherapy, but the opportunity to study at home and use her skills to give back to her country was more enticing.

Tuivaga said the thought of having to go overseas to complete her university degree and being away from her home and her family was daunting.

“I didn’t want to move overseas and have to find a place to live and start a whole new life,” she said.

To be able to study accounting is a dream come true for a young Cook Islands woman whose aspirations are to start her own business at home in Rarotonga and do all her accounting work herself.

Tuivaga’s parents have always put a strong emphasis on education and because of this they will cover her course fees.

As Tuivaga’s biggest supporters, either her mum or her dad would stay up all night with her while she was studying, not because they were keeping an eye on her and making sure she was actually hitting her books but because they understood the sacrifices she was making.

“I hope to get a government scholarship but my parents are paying for me to study here. Of course they want to see my grades and that I’m working hard and doing well, but my fees here are nothing compared to what I would’ve been looking at overseas,” she said.

She also paid tribute to her anau group teacher at Tereora College Christina Ganivatu, who was like a mother figure to her during her time at the school.

“This is my home, I didn’t want to go anywhere else, the reason I’ve achieved what I have is because of the support here,” she said.

“My success is not mine alone and I hope one day to return the support I’ve been given.” 

Revitalising Te reo Cook Islands Maori through Education

The statistics around the everyday use of Cook Islands Maori, especially among the younger generations, don’t make for good reading.

There are real fears that Cook Islands Maori will be lost if Cook Islands children are not encouraged and enthused by learning the language of their ancestors.

But at the University of the South Pacific campus in Rarotonga, the wheels are in motion to see this change.

Lecturers Dr Ake Nicholas a professor of linguistics at Massey University, former school teacher Teau Seabourne and fluent te reo Maori speaker James Puati agree that the blame doesn’t lie with any generation of Cook Islanders, but rather the system that has dictated that English be the preferred everyday language used.

Any language is best learnt by being spoken at home, but they also say parents are busy running the household and working full time and can’t always act as teachers.

In 2017, the USP Diploma in Pacific Vernacular Languages: Cook Islands Maori, started and requires adult students most of whom are school teachers and who are already strong and proficient Cook Islands Maori speakers, complete a total of eight papers.

The focus is on teaching Cook Islands Maori and giving the teachers skills and resources to engage young people.

That’s where the future of the revitalisation of Cook Islands Maori lies, Dr Nicholas says.

“We need to make our kids excited about learning Cook Islands Maori, instead of being scared of getting things wrong and making them stressed,” she said.

In a modern world where interaction with technology is a given, it’s about getting the language to the children on their devices and laptops.

She has developed computer animation programs to get children engaged.

“The kids love these things, if they aren’t interested or have been scared away from learning te reo, we can take it to them.”

Teau Seabourne moved to New Zealand when she was six and was encouraged to pursue tertiary education by her parents. She completed a Bachelor of Education at Auckland University and extensions of that degree at Massey University and the University of Victoria in Wellington.

She became a school teacher and worked in tertiary education for many years in New Zealand, eventually starting community learning programs where she taught Cook Islands Maori.

But her heart told her there was something missing.

“I learnt New Zealand Maori because it was the only option. While our reo is relatively similar, there are some words that have two completely different meanings,” she said.

Seabourne returned to Rarotonga to retire but cherishes the opportunity to speak Cook Islands Maori every day.

Her hope is that by imparting her knowledge, that the language of her ancestors will thrive among the young people of tomorrow.

“I’ve come back home to share my knowledge and to improve the capacity and skills of our teachers to teach our children their language.”

96 Students Graduate from USP Cook Islands Campus

Mani Mate (Master of Commerce in Tourism and Hospitality Management) from Aitutaki, was humbled and honoured to deliver the keynote address as Valedictorian for the 2018 Graduation.

He spoke of his beginnings in the academic world of undertaking further studies with USP.

After experiencing the devastation of cyclone Pat in 2010 while he was residing there, Mate decided to explore options in higher education and enrolled in the USP course, Bachelor of Commerce in Hotel Management.

He noted the challenges of sleepless nights reading, research, writing and studying for exams while working full time.

“Many of us appreciate the fact that we were able to study from home while providing and taking care of our families, make a difference in our communities, taking part in the growth of our society and the development of our country.”

“For this we are grateful to the USP for giving us the opportunity to be able to study from our home country.”

Mate encouraged fellow graduates to “never ever doubt your abilities.”

Special thanks and appreciation were expressed to the USP faculty and support staff, lecturers, employers, sponsors and families on behalf of the graduates. The graduation also marked the 50th Anniversary of the University.

Director of the USP Cook Islands Campus Roderick Dixon says: “Since its inception the university has produced over 500 Cook Islands graduates at first degree or above, the majority of whom have remained in - country to serve the Cook Islands in the public, private and civil society sectors.”

“With a significant number of graduates in-country, the focus is now on developing research capacity through higher degree studies.”

“The graduation celebrates the achievement of our current and past graduates. Smaller graduation celebrations will take place in the next few weeks on Palmerston and Manihiki.”

Forty students graduated; also present at the occasion were 47 students who graduated since the last Cook Islands graduation in October 2015; nine students who graduated in a joint collaboration between USP and AUT, including three Masters by thesis -  a total of 96 students, 53 of these are at post graduate level.

In the Cook Islands, the USP graduation ceremonies occur every two to three years and on average produces 30 Cook Islands graduates annually.

Book Launch Marks 50th Anniversary

To celebrate 50 years of The University of the South Pacific's inception the Cook Islands Campus launched a book titled "Mana". An ode to Honorary Dr. Marjorie Crocombe, the book celebrates the role that Dr. Crocombe played in generating the first wave of post-colonial writing in the Pacific.

Mana captures a largely oral tradition of Cook Islands storytelling, celebrating the history of the written word in Maori and English – from anti-colonialism to a post-colonialism era. This significant publication will be used as a text for future studies in Cook Islands and Pacific literature in schools, universities and community libraries.

Published by Woods Agency the book was so well received that it sold out within a week of its launch. At the Mana launch event, Peter Marshall, the New Zealand High Commissioner felt that the book should be available in all schools in the Cook Islands, which prompted the Secretary of Education to purchase 31 copies on the night – one for each school.

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Page updated: Monday, July 27, 2020
USP Cook Islands Campus
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