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Source: University of Waikato

Ni sa bula vinaka.

An official Pacific welcome for the University of Waikato’s first Pacific Chancellor has taken place after being delayed in 2020 by lockdown and our response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The University of Waikato Pacific community formally welcomed Rt Hon Sir Anand Satyanand as Chancellor, with a special and unique veiqaravi vakavanua ceremony at the University’s Hamilton campus yesterday.

This occasion acknowledges the significance of Sir Anand’s appointment as Chancellor to the University’s Pacific community. The Chancellor was honoured through the presentation of gifts including tabua (whale tooth) and ibe (woven mats), gifts recognising the Chancellor’s status, service, leadership and roots in the Pacific .

The third step of the ceremony, the isevusevu including the serving of kava, served as a symbolic cultural interaction between the Chancellor and the Assistant Vice-Chancellor Pacific, Dr Keaka Hemi, on behalf of the University’s Pacific staff and students. This step cemented the relationship between the Chancellor and the University’s Pacific staff and students.

Dr Hemi says University staff, students and the Waikato Fijian community have been working towards this day for months.

“Everyone’s level of care and attention was above and beyond what might be expected, as was the aloha they brought in all that they did. It was an absolute privilege to welcome the Chancellor, Lady Susan and their family and friends into our Pacific at Waikato ohana.”

The event also served as an opportunity to launch a new Pacific journal, In Our Language: Journal of Pacific Research, the first journal to translate previously peer-reviewed articles from English and publish them in Pacific languages.

From a Pacific perspective, events such as the Chancellor’s welcome, launching the University of Waikato’s first journal dedicated to Pacific research, and similar initiatives demonstrate a commitment to and ongoing progress on the current Pacific Plan, with a new 2021-2024 Pacific Strategic Plan currently being drafted in anticipation of more Pacific celebrations to come.

Dr Hemi says the excitement about this work in particular was palpable during the Chancellor’s welcome.

“It was humbling to reflect on the University’s progress on creating better outcomes for Pacific people and our next strategic steps with senior leaders, community leaders, friends and ohana who are all committed to Pacific success.”

MIL OSI