“Today, the decks of the two great canoes are connected. The aligning and the balance we hope to realise soon. We might be sailing in the same or opposite directions, and we might have our own Moana interests and vision. Still, under this MOU, we are reminded that we now have a duty to constantly lower our sails, align and connect our canoes, and meet to discuss how to strengthen this great relationship created today,” said Reverend Professor Upolu Vaai earlier today as PTC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with New Zealand’s University of Otago at the PTC Fale in front of the community. Rev Professor Vaai urged PTC and the University of Otago to ensure mutually beneficial engagements and to be unlike examples of partnerships where wealthy universities benefit most by absorbing students from more minor, less developed universities instead of helping them.
Deep connections between the University of Otago and the Pacific Theological College go far back into the sixties, with the first posts of the College laid by Reverend Dr Geoge Knight, the first PTC Principal and an Otago University alumnus. Vice Chancellor Professor David Murdoch said the University of Otago has a solid and long connection with the region. Fiji’s first medical Dr Ratu Jione Doviverata, and the former Prime Minister and President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara.
“We feel we have a solid connection with this region,” said Professor Murdoch.
“For us, it’s a lot about how we connect and position ourselves in the world; indeed, part of that is being seen as a University in and of the Pacific,” said Professor Murdoch.
Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Tony Ballantyne said the MOU with PTC is crucial, particularly as the University of Otago is reviewing its strategic plan.
“In this process, we increasingly recognise our position in the Pacific and the responsibilities that come with that,” he said.
“So we are delighted to be here and engaging with PTC and being able to meet face to face. We particularly recognise the vital cultural and intellectual significance of theological colleges like PTC with its regional reach. We look forward to growing a broad-based relationship as we move forward,” added Professor Ballantyne.
The MOU signing was followed by food sharing and a meeting between the Otago University delegates and the PTC administration.