Associate Professor Patrick Vakaoti a Fijian sociologist has been appointed Manutaki (Dean) of the University of Otago’s Te Tumu – School of Māori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies.
Associate Professor Vakaoti says the “personal and professional milestone” is underpinned by strong family, community and collegial support.
“I also come with my indigeneity. As a Fijian, I am a manuhiri on this land. This identity status guides my interaction with mana whenua and tangata whenua. From a Fijian perspective, relationships or vei wekani are key to any interaction, whether with students or staff. These and other cultural values like listening or vei rogorogoci and care or vei kauwaitaki will help me navigate and perform the role.”
In addition to teaching and research in the Sociology, Gender Studies and Criminology programme, Associate Professor Vakaoti has made significant contributions to Otago’s strategic Pacific initiatives.
Vakaoti served as the inaugural Humanities Associate Dean Pacific until 2021, a member of the Pacific Leadership Group and the University’s Human Ethics Committee, and as co-director of the Otago Global Health Institute.
Te Kete Aronui Humanities Pro-Vice-Chancellor Te Manukura Professor Jessica Palmer says Associate Professor Vakaoti’s dedication to Moana Pacific has been seen clearly in his service as Associate Dean Pacific and his other roles.
Associate Professor Vakaoti was born in Levuka, Ovalau, and has paternal links to Malawai, Gau, Lomaiviti and maternal links to Ucunivanua, Verata, Tailevu in Fiji.
He will take on the role in January 2023.