Tongan school dropouts have chance to study at MIT, PM Pōhiva says

Tonga’s Prime Minister ʻAkilisi Pōhiva said the school dropouts in Tonga can have a chance to study courses provided by the Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT).

Hon Pōhiva made the comment during a visit to the Institute’s Pasifika Community Centre last week as part of his first official visit to New Zealand.

He was welcomed to the centre by Peter Quigg,  Acting CEO, Dr Stuart Middleton, MIT Director of External Affairs, ‘Iani Nemani, Co-Chair Pacific Community Advisory Board, and Senior Lecturers, ‘Ikani Fifita and Anna Cullen. Other faculty members and some of the Pasifika staff and students also joined the celebration.

After the opening prayer and other formalities, the Hon. Prime Minister along with his delegation had a tour of the MIT Pasifika Centre. This was followed by an informal discussion relating to Pasifika and Tongan students at MIT, and MIT’s on-going activity in Tonga.

The Hon. Prime Minister was accompanied by Hon. Tevita Lavemaau, Minister for Revenue and Customs, Hon. Poase Tei, Minister of Public Enterprises, Lord Vaea, Member of Parliament and Nobles Representative, a delegation of Tongan Government officials, and Sarah Walsh, New Zealand  High Commissioner to Tonga.


“At MIT, we have a strong commitment to Pasifika and to enabling Pasifika to succeed as Pasifika,” says Dr Middleton, “Building the MIT Pasifika Community in Otara is an integral part of this strategy.”

MIT has recently developed a partnership with support from the Tonga Institute of
Science of Technology (TIST), and the NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to provide trades training in Tonga.  Monte Payne, Senior Lecturer and Tongan Technical Advisor is working very close with Dr Middleton and TIST said “The trades training is running very well in Tonga and this is a great opportunity for Tongan students and the Tongan communities, “Parents are showing great interests and understanding of the benefits for their children in joining the programme”.

“Over the past three years, we’ve implemented a programme to train young people in Tonga in vocational and technical trades. It’s been a very effective, for the individuals and for the wider community,” says Dr Middleton.

In 2015, more than 200 fifteen year old students in Tonga graduated through the partnership.

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