Fanaafi heads Otago Alumni in Samoa

The Otago Alumni-Samoa Chapter-La O Samoa has a new president. She is Fanaafi Aiono-Le Tagaloa.

The announcement was made during the University of Otago Alumni Fono Cocktail at the Taumeasina Island Resort where more than 30 alumni were present. 

The appointment comes in time for the university’s preparation towards its 150th anniversary celebration to be held in New Zealand next year.   

Established in 1869, the Otago University Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Helen Nicholson, shared their exciting plans for the upcoming event.  

“We are planning to have 150 events to celebrate the 150 years. In our programmes you will see the exciting events that Dr. Tasileta Teevale (Director of Pacific Development Office) and Tofilau Nina have put together around the weekend of 15-17 March.”

“These include walking tours, a chance to catch up at the Captain Cook Tavern, a dinner and dance and a community service.”

“The actual birthday of the University falls on the 1st weekend of June - Queen’s birthday.”

“We will be marking this with the opening of an exhibition about the history and impact of the university at the Otago Museum, a special convocation parade and ceremony on the Saturday, faculty dinners, a gala concert and a special student koneseti.”

She adds the lifeblood of the university is their students. This year, their domestic and international student numbers increased to 20,000 young people.

“Over the past decade, the number of Pacific students has been gradually rising and I am delighted to tell you that this year we have just over 1000 students from Pacific Islands or New Zealand.” 

“We are very proud of not only the number of students but the way that our staff and particularly the Pacific Island Center, under the watchful eye of Tofilau Nina, look after the children and grandchildren. Last year we had the highest pass rates ever for Pacific students 79.7 per cent.”

Professor Helen says they aspire to be a research-led university with an international reputation for excellence. 

“In research, it brought over a $100 million in research funding. It hosts two National Centers of Excellence, and is involved in all 11 National Science Challenges and hosts two.”

“Otago is certainly internationally recognised and rose to be ranked 151st in the world last year in the QS rankings. Not only as an institution does it rank well, but some of its departments/programmes are among the best.”

“In the recent 2018 subject rankings, Otago had five in the top 50: sports and sports related 12th, dentistry 27th, archaeology 28th, anatomy and physiology 29th, developmental science 39th.”

“And a further 10 in top 51-100: Theology, nursing, pharmacy/pharmacology, earth (and marine) studies, education, psychology, performing arts, geography, anthropology and law,” she said.

Among the alumni who were present was, Tapusatele Le Mamea Ropati Mualia, who is a proud “scarfie”.

He says it was fantastic seeing everyone present not only to reminisce, but to also share in their successful establishment of their Samoan Chapter.

Tapusatele voiced his words of encouragement for the new president and her team.

“To the inaugural Board of Executives for the Otago Alumni-Samoa Chapter, I wish you well. I also want to challenge and encourage you to be daring in your leadership and in your planning for the future of our chapter.”

“My advice to you, think big and think beyond the ordinary. Otago is an illustrious institution. It is a pioneer and a leader. Such attributes are instilled in its students who become its graduates and are sent out to the far flung corners of the globe.” 

“Such as here in our small island paradise home. Be diligent, be courageous, be awesome,” he said.

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