Faumuina Associate Professor Fa’afetai Sopoaga
Prime Minister’s Supreme Award Winner 2018
Also award for Sustained Excellence in Tertiary Teaching and Endorsement for Excellence in Supporting Pacific Learners.
Division of Health Sciences, the University of Otago
“My approach to teaching is to inspire, develop connectedness and mutual trust, and encourage and enable students to learn in contexts that are often outside their comfort zone”.
Transformational describes Faumuinā’s teaching and commitment to all her students at Otago, throughout Aotearoa and the Pacific region. There are a growing number of Pacific students who have progressed and completed their studies and attribute their success directly to her inspirational teaching design and intense personal relationships and support. A medical student wrote about Faumuinā’s Pacific Immersion Programme, “The experience made me aware of my privilege and the inherent bias that I perceive the world with and enables a transformation of our preconceived ideas and beliefs, and greater empathy and understanding of under-served populations”. Testimony from a colleague says “She is a passionate and highly effective academic leader of all things Pacific in the Division. Her contributions to Pacific curriculum development and to the academic and pastoral care of Pacific students is truly exceptional.”
In her portfolio, Faumuinā wrote “The University of Otago’s motto is “Dare to be Wise”… I dared to hope I could make a difference … A Vision was born” That vision is fulfilled, Faumuinā merits both awards for her innovate contributions to curriculum development and teaching, and, for unparalleled support and encouragement provided to Pacific learners.