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Fijian Involvement In Waiariki Likely

Fijian Involvement In Waiariki Institute Of Technology Looks Likely

A recent trip to Fiji by two Waiariki Institute of Technology staff members to investigate forestry and other educational opportunities saw them return to Rotorua with numerous prospects.

Over a busy two weeks, Waiariki's forestry academic development co-ordinator Gordon Acres and international manager Roger Gordon met with key Fijian politicians, government officials, businessmen, educators and students to present courses available at Waiariki and explore future opportunities.

Acres describes the visit as an outstanding success.

"We were able to meet with exactly the right people at the right time, particularly the government officials from the Ministry of Fisheries and Forests and the Ministry of Fijian Affairs who issue the scholarships," he enthuses.

"It's likely we will be undertaking practical forestry programmes in Fiji and staircasing them into the National Diploma of Forestry at Waiariki. This could happen sooner rather than later.

"It is very exciting as it's totally in keeping with our strategy to include the South Pacific as part of our education focus to become the premiere forest industry training provider in the region."

In addition to presenting Waiariki's forestry courses, Acres and Gordon built on the existing close relationships Waiariki has in Fiji through previous consultancy projects and forestry education.

Diploma of Forestry graduate Joni Duikoro, who played a vital role in the visit, is soon to be appointed Divisional Forest Officer Northern in December, the region's most senior Ministry of Forestry appointment.

Acres and Gordon also met with prospective students and were able to present Waiariki's programmes in the course of visits to several secondary schools in Fiji.

"The response was very good from the schools," says Acres. "There was keen interest shown, questions asked and, more importantly, application forms (for Waiariki) requested."

The trip was also timely as it coincided with the start of a review of Fiji's education system. There's potential for Fiji to adopt New Zealand's frameworked unit standards approach.

"We were able to discuss the full implications of adopting such this type of system and how it would positively affect the Fijian students being transitioned into New Zealand qualifications," adds Acres.

As a result of the visit, Fijian officials have been invited to join Waiariki in the formal launch of the Radi Centre of Excellence later this year, confirming its leading role in forestry education in the Pacific region.

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