Since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Hunga Tonga–Hunga Haʻapai eruption and tsunami, The University of the South Pacific (USP) has worked to keep in touch with its staff, students, and members of the wider community.
Recently, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice President (DVC/VP) (Regional Campuses and Global Engagements), Dr Giulio Masasso Tu’ikolongahau Paunga and USP Tonga Campus Director, Dr Robin Havea visited the USP Centres in Vava’u and Ha’apai.
Dr Havea said, “The trip to Vava’u and Ha’apai was a great opportunity for Dr Paunga to visit the outer Centres, particularly meeting the staff and relevant stakeholders. Equally important, it was also a great opportunity for the staff to directly raise any concerns they had, and it helped identify areas that needed improvement in the services we provided to the students and the public in general.”
“Further, Dr Paunga managed to visit key stakeholders who are development partners such as Governors and Church Leaders at Ha’apai and Vava’u,” he added.
Meanwhile, Dr Paunga said, “This is my first visit in three years, especially since COVID and the challenges of the volcanic eruptions.”
“We made a courtesy call, and it was an opportunity to check in on the welfare and health of the Centre staff. I had the chance to also thank and discuss issues with appropriate stakeholders who helped and are willing to continue cooperation with the centres in the future,” Dr Paunga added.
“This visit also gave me the opportunity to receive updates and visions from Vava’u and Ha’apai Governors, respectively, on issues and where USP services can be improved at the local level.”
Ha’apai Center Coordinator, Ms Talei ‘Ulufonua said, “This visit was a great opportunity for us to receive the Campus Director, Dr Robin Havea and this is the first time for us to receive a courtesy visit by the University DVC/VP Paunga.”
“In this visit, our staff were able to speak directly to him regarding our urgent needs related to his division. DVCVP Paunga also had the chance to meet and dialogue directly with our counterparts at the Ha’apai High School in which our Centre is located, and the two also spoke with the Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change, and Communications Officer in Charge in Haa’api – Mr. ‘Amoni Taumoe’anga, for the possibility of donating a water tank through government aid. ”
She also highlighted that as the Centre Coordinator, she was given important reminders which would greatly assist with the running of the Ha’apai Centre.
Dr Paunga and the Campus Director also met with the Governor of Ha’apai- Dr Pita Taufatofua and the Reverend In charge of Ha’apai Free Wesleyan Church- Reverend Siosifa Koloti Ma’u.
Vava’u Centre Coordinator, Ms Tupou Nonu said, “I want to congratulate DVC/VP and our Director on their successful leadership. I and the rest of the staff are proud to have such great dedicated leaders with us on board.”
“The presence of the DVC/VP on spot is a major contribution to advance the needs of our Centre as he was witnessing our (Centre) reality instead of reading through behind the screen. Dr Paunga’s visit plays a major role in sustaining and maintaining the harmonious rhythm of the University services for the students and for throughout the USP region irrespective of where you are,” she added.
Ms Tupou said, “With Dr Paunga being able to see first-hand the situation on the ground, this could lead to clarity of solutions to address the challenges that the Centre faces and that is conducive to the smooth running of the Centre.