Some of the delegates to the Pacific Islands University Research Network conference that opened at NUS this morning
*By Katalina Tovia
APIA, SAMOA – MONDAY 19 SEPTEMBER 2016: The second Pacific Islands University Research Network (PIURN) conference opened at the National University of Samoa Fale this morning.
The official opening ceremony began with a welcome Ava Ceremony prepared by the N.U.S. Centre for Samoan Studies Department and the welcoming of participants and guests by the Director of P.I.U.R.N. Conference, Professor Meleisea Leasiolagi Meleisea.
The opening prayer was said by Reverend Opapo Soonai.
Delegates were welcomed by the Deputy Prime Minister, Hon Fiame Mata’afa.
“It was not long ago that our region had only two universities, the University of Papua New Guinea and the University of the South Pacific,” the Hon. Mata’afa said.
“Today we have thirteen and counting. This signals not only the advancement of our people and our countries in higher education but major increase in the institutional support that is available for home-grown regionally oriented research,” she said.
The conference brings together scholars from the Pacific Region to collectively address topics on land tenure and climate change, indigenous arts and languages, challenges for building science, technology as well as innovation in the Pacific Island region.
“I wish that this conference will raise awareness and support for P.I.U.R.N. and enhance its profile and visibility as a potential regional ‘think tank’,” Hon. Mata’afa said.
“We are connected not only by ‘our sea of islands ‘but also increasingly by improved internet connectivity within and between our countries, with all its potential to facilitate a greater interaction between our scholars.
“Among the objectives of establishing P.I.U.R.N. was the hope of increasing regional cooperation and support for research, especially in science, technology and innovation, within Pacific regional strategies, policies and mechanisms,” Hon. Mata’afa said.
The Honorable Mata’afa also hoped that the conference will result in long lasting collaborations and exchange of knowledge and innovation, taking them to a regional as well as a global stage.
The PIURN Conference ends on Wednesday.
*Katalina Tovia is a second year Journalism student at NUS