NZ Prime Minister visits USP Laucala Campus as he tours the Pacific


The University of the South Pacific (USP) and Aotearoa New Zealand continue to strengthen their historical ties with the visit of the New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon to USP’s Laucala Campus in Suva, Fiji on 6 June 2024.

Prime Minister Luxon, who is on his first inaugural trip to the Pacific, seeks to deepen and establish a comprehensive relationship with the region.

Upon arriving at the Laucala Campus, Prime Minister Luxon was welcomed by USP Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Pal Ahluwalia at the Sunderland monument unveiled during the institution’s 50th anniversary.

The Sunderland monument stands as a symbol to commemorate the veterans of the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s (RNZAF) flying boat operations at Laucala Bay from 1941 to 1967 and represents the enduring relationship between USP and New Zealand.

After the welcome, Prime Minister Luxon and Professor Ahluwalia laid a wreath at the monument’s base, honouring the veterans and members of the RNZAF number 5 squadron.

In his remarks, Prime Minister Luxon highlighted the importance of the ongoing partnership between New Zealand and USP forged when New Zealand officers were based in Laucala in the mid-1900s.

“It means a lot to be able to come to this site because it is a place that we feel proud about and to be able to give the land back to the University and the significant role it plays in the region.”

Prime Minister Luxon added, “I have been all across the Pacific and had conversations with different leaders I met in person, and many of them came through this institution; so, the work you do matters in building capabilities across our region”.

Professor Ahluwalia thanked the New Zealand Prime Minister for their continued support in the region and towards USP, acknowledging the long-standing relationship between USP and Aotearoa.

“Our shared partnership over the years combined our unique strengths to foster the best outcomes for our Pacific peoples, and USP has been and will continue to play a critical role as the bedrock for regionalism.”

Professor Ahluwalia also emphasised USP’s position in shaping and producing Pacific leaders while working towards strengthening the institution’s long-term sustainability.

The wreath-laying ceremony was made even more special with the presence of three veterans who had served in the RNZAF team at Laucala in the mid-20th century.

Following the ceremony, Prime Minister Luxon and Professor Ahluwalia met with USP’s senior management team and engaged in brief discussions with four current Manaaki Scholars at USP.

This visit underscores New Zealand’s commitment to USP and celebrates the 56 years of partnership between the two parties.

USP Chat Service
Lets start: