Newly appointed New Zealand High Commissioner to the Kingdom of Tonga, His Excellency, Matthew Howell paid a courtesy visit to The University of the South Pacific’s Tonga Campus on 19 July 2022.
High Commissioner Howell was received by the Campus Director, Dr Robin Havea and staff before taking a tour of the Campus where he was shown the USP Tonga Satellite Room, IT Department, Computer Lab, Tano’a Resource Centre, the Library and Kūkūkaunaka Collection.
The High Commissioner has an international development background and a long career working in the Pacific. He has visited Tonga many times and, in the past, has worked closely with USP, managing Aotearoa New Zealand’s partnership with the USP and other regional agencies.
The primary purpose of his visit was to meet the Campus Director and discuss some of the partnerships that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (MFAT) has with USP, such as the Tonga Education Support Activity, which the USP-IOE (Institute of Education) team is leading, and scholarships administered through MFAT.
The High Commissioner said that he and his team were very grateful to visit the USP campus and meet the wonderful staff as it gave a sense of the critical work USP was doing in Tonga and the long partnership between Aotearoa and USP.
“The way the staff have adapted to the impacts of both COVID-19 and the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcanic eruption, to ensure a continuing positive learning environment for students, is remarkable,” he added.
He further added it was interesting to see the work New Zealand was supporting in developing schoolbooks and materials to support teachers.
Dr Robin Havea said the staff of USP Tonga Campus were delighted and honoured to welcome the newly appointed New Zealand High Commissioner to Tonga, adding that it was his first official courtesy visit to the Campus.
“Through the IOE led by Dr Seu’ula Johansson-Fua based at USP Tonga Campus, we have a long history of working with the Government of New Zealand under MFAT as a development partner,” he said.
“The visit by His Excellency, Mr Dowell is a testimony to the commitment and support USP Tonga Campus receives from the Government of New Zealand, thereby enabling IOE to carry out various educational projects both in Tonga and the region,” he added.
The High Commissioner was accompanied by his First Secretary – Development, Ryan Brown, and Development Programme Coordinator (Health & Education), Lesieli Nai.