LETTERS: Changing narrative regarding USP

Thursday 11 February 2021 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion


LETTERS: Changing narrative regarding USP

"It is a Fiji Government problem that is impacting USP and correspondingly it is Fiji Government credibility that is seriously eroded."

Dear Editor,

Regarding Collin Tukuitonga’s opinion piece February 9, 2021 (Dual crises at USP and the Pacific Islands Forum: the chance for a different future?), I feel we should change the narrative here regarding USP (University of the South Pacific).

It is a Fiji Government problem that is impacting USP and correspondingly it is Fiji Government credibility that is seriously eroded. USP Council were not involved in the human rights violation of the VC&P (Pal Ahluwalia), nor were 11 of the other member country Governments.

As Collin rightfully points out, many leaders across the Pacific have been, and continue to be, educated by USP. As an example, close to home, all but two of the Heads of Ministries in the Cook Islands are USP Alumni and half of Cabinet.

USP offers the Pacific a self-determining option for tertiary education – this is the last thing that Pasifika students experience in universities in Aotearoa! Numerous studies have revealed how most Pasifika tertiary students struggle in NZ universities (see, for example: Kapeli, Manuela, & Sibley, (2018); Southwick, Scott, Mitaera, Nimarota, & Falepau, (2013); Baxter, Kokaua, Wells, MeGee, & Oakly Brown, (2006); Benseman, Anae, Anderson, & Coxon, (2002); Benseman, Coxon, Anderson, & Anae, (2006); Benseman, Anae, Anderson, & Coxon, (2006); Wikaire, E. (2015).

These scholars provide the evidence that Pacific students in tertiary education in NZ experience difficulties that many find very hard to overcome. Their health and wellbeing are often compromised by their NZ university experiences. However, we do know that Pasifika students can achieve a level of completion and success at least as well as other students when deliberate and systematic Pasifika approaches are adopted. This lies in contrast to what Pasifika students experience in NZ universities where, success depends on the endeavour of individual Pacific students to “crack” the system.

USP provides Pasifika students with a Pasifika university experience and every year 1000s of Pacific students graduate successfully from USP.

For USP Cook Islands, and other regional campuses, it is business as usual! In fact USP Cook Islands are experiencing an increase in the number of enrolments for semester one - without counting the Fees Free students!

At USP, Pasifika people are the norm, as are Pasifika pedagogies and values, with classes intentionally designed for Pacific people, by Pacific lecturers. So, arguments such as those in the 2019 article written by Sereana Naepi entitled ‘Why isn’t my Professor Pasifika?’ are not questions students at USP have to ask.

Naepi’s article provides a snapshot of the academic workforce in New Zealand universities and argues that NZ universities need to ‘develop meaningful policies that engage with Pasifika beyond desirable diversity and fulfil Pasifika’s vision of universities as places that embrace all learners, esteem all knowledges, and serve all communities’.

USP, does all these things and much much more. USP is even more important in the region that it ever has been, and I would have expected Collin understand this given his previous roles in the region.

Stay home and go far with USP!

Dr Debi Futter-Puati


USP Cook Islands

Seasonal workers

Dear Editor,

Awesome to see such a positive front page, Saturday February 6 edition.

‘Do the work, get the rewards’ and I would like to commend all the people stepping out, away from family and friends, it’s not an easy decision to make, and it will be a very different place to live, from what they are used to.

But I am concerned that, maybe I should be very worried for them, if I am to believe your article, from Thursday, November 5, 2020, ‘Questioning the morality of New Zealand’s reliance on workers from the Pacific’ by E-Tangata.

In this ‘story’ we are told that, this is just another form of slavery, by the colonial oppressor, tantamount to the blackbirding in the 18 and 19 hundreds. Can someone please advise me what to believe? Which story is fiction?!


(Name and address supplied)