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Pacific Studies lecturer on International Council

Victoria University Pacific Studies Lecturer, Teresia Teaiwa, has been elected interim Vice-President of an international council set up to raise the profile and advance awareness of Pacific studies throughout the world.

The inaugural meeting of the International Council for the Study of the Pacific Islands took place in Apia in late June, at which Dr. Teaiwa was elected.

Dr. Teaiwa says the UNESCO and Papua New Guinea government-funded Council has been established to promote international co-operation among academic institutions that have an interest in Pacific studies.

“Among its duties, the Council aims to raise the profile of Pacific studies and promote awareness of the contribution this area of study has made to knowledge in general,” she says.

“It will also take academic and government-based research findings and translate it into simpler language and media for general public use in the Pacific Islands.”

Dr. Teaiwa says the Council also intends to award excellence in Pacific-based research, most likely through monetary grants.

As Vice-President, her brief is to attract new members to the Council, source additional funds and lobby internationally to get as many institutions on board as possible.

Already the Council has executive representation from the Australian National University, the University of Papua New Guinea, the University of the South Pacific, University of Hawaii, University of New Caledonia, National University of Samoa, and UNESCO.

“We have a really good spread, but we want to bring in all the little pockets from far-flung places,” says Dr. Teaiwa.

“Our primary role now is to get as many people as possible to our meeting in Apia next year so that our meeting and elections are fully representative.”

From this, it is intended to form a Secretariat with full-time staff. It is also hoped that project ideas for the Council to undertake will be brought to the meeting.

Of her election, Dr. Teaiwa says it was a vote of confidence and support for Victoria University and its distinguished lineage in Pacific studies.

“It indicates that other institutions consider Victoria a place to watch in the future. It also promotes mutual support [among institutions] for programmes in a climate that is otherwise very competitive.”

Dr. Teaiwa will officiate as Vice-President until the Apia meeting in December 2002.

The Council has been funded through an initial grant of USD$15,000 from UNESCO and USD$5000 from the Papua New Guinea government.

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