Tonga PM visits AIS

The Tongan Prime Minister visited AIS on August 2.

Auckland Institute of Studies were proud to welcome Honourable Prime Minister Akilisi Pohiva onto both our St Helens and Asquith Campuses on Tuesday August 2.

As part of a wider tour of New Zealand, the Prime Minister was joined by Foreign Affairs Secretary Va'inga Tone, PM Private Secretary Pooi Pohiva, Lord Vaea MP, NZ Tongan Consul Sitafooti 'Aho, Trade Official Nunia Mone, among other ministers and officials.

Over recent years, AIS has supported 213 Tongan graduates in a range of fields including Business, IT, Tourism and Hospitality. At present, there are 55 Tongan students studying towards various qualifications. Of course, the goal is always to improve these numbers and with this year marking the 10th anniversary of our relationship with the Tonga Institute of Higher Education (TIHE) this visit represents another positive step between AIS and the Tongan Government.

Honourable Prime Minister Akilisi Pohiva and his delegation met with a number of AIS management staff including Chairman Yin-Sheng Hsieh, CEO Mr John Wood, President Dr Richard Goodall, Academic Registrar Richard Smith, Marketing and Student Services Manager Rachel Honeycombe and Director of Pasifika Relations Dr. Semisi Taumoepeau. Discussing the ongoing challenges that Tongan students face when choosing to study in NZ, as well as study visas and skill shortages, both parties hope they can improve the educational opportunities available to Tongan students.

In relation to the Tourism industry, Tongan students are at a distinct advantage at AIS through our Director of Pasifika Relations, Dr. Semisi Taumoepeau. He is a well respected member of the community thanks to his ongoing contributions in Tonga and the wider South Pacific.

With a visit from the Tongan Prime Minister and his delegation to both AIS campuses which featured a performance of traditional songs and dances from Tongan AIS students and discussions with the AIS leadership team, our relationship with the Kingdom of Tonga has never been greater.

Looking forward, AIS is focused on developing further relationships in Tonga to allow more students the pathway through to AIS programmes. A visit by our marketing staff will take place later this month, following on from a recent trip by our Marketing and Student Services Manager and Academic Head of Programme for IT in June.