An institute for critical education in the South Pacific

A ʻAtenisi picture

Lakalaka (2005)



For 44 years ʻAtenisi Institute has continued to offer tertiary courses in social science, natural science, humanities, and the arts … typically culminating in a B.A. or B.S. degree received ad eundem at the University of Auckland.

Among the institute's distinguished alumni are Drs Robin Havea (campus director, Univ. of the South Pacific/Tonga), Siosifa Ika (analyst, human services dept., Western Australia), ʻOpeti Taliai (former university dean, ʻAtenisi), and alum Vaʻinga Tone has recently been appointed Tonga's Ambassador to the United Nations.

Message from the Director

directorMore than forty years ago my father launched a university here at ʻAtenisi. He believed that students should be taught how – not what – to think.

He would have been dismayed by the current drift towards commercial and technical instruction at universities throughout the world.

He believed the pillars of classical education – philosophy, mathematics, history, literature, and music – remain the most effective facilitators of critical analysis.

Mere skill, he argued – whether commercial or technical – dooms the expert to focusing on trees whilst the forest burns. Indeed, from global recessions to nuclear power plants, we have seen economists and engineers watch helplessly as the results of their one-dimensional knowledge collapse before their eyes.

To prospective under- or postgraduates … to Tonga’s working people … to visiting consultants and scholars from overseas, we say talitali lelei: take advantage of ʻAtenisi’s B.A., B.S., and postgraduate programmes, 3000-volume library, Tongan dance and language instruction, vocal and instrumental coaching, and free evening lectures.

At age 44, ʻAtenisi remains wise and innovative. There’s simply nothing in the Pacific like it.

director's hand

Institute director

ʻAtenisi registration


An affiliate of the Macmillan Brown centre
for Pacific studies

Latest news

Aug. 2019 – Former NZ High Com. Analyses Transition of Four Monarchies to Democracy

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Last update: 29 August 2019. Read more in… Bogle lecture

June 2019 – Adam Johnson, Prize-winning Stanford Novelist, Conducts Master Class for Aspiring Writers

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Last update: 13 June 2019. Read more in… Johnson master class

April 2019 – Kiwi Ethics Prof. Calls for Wealth Tax to Rescue Sociality in Coming Employment Meltdown

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Last update: 17 May 2019. Read more in… Agar lecture

Cambodia Nov. 2018-Jan. 2019 – ʻAtenisi Dean Completes Professorial Exchange at Dewey

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Last update: 17 January 2019. Read more in… Cambodian visit


Let ʻAtenisi Guide You Towards An Overseas Ph.D.

Tevita Manuʻatu
N.I.U. (2105–2017)
Salis Faivaʻilo
Wroclaw (2015–2017)
ʻOkusitino Tae
Ryukyus (2015–2016)

In spring 2015, two ʻAtenisi graduates – on the strength of their B.A. degrees – commenced postgraduate study at Northern Illinois University outside of Chicago and the University of Wroclaw in southwestern Poland. A third continued undergraduate study at the University of the Ryukyus on Okinawa, Japan. Using the network established by our late founder, Dr ʻI. Futa Helu, ‘Atenisi negotiated a salaried research assistantship for Tevita Manuʻatu at N.I.U., a fellowship for ʻOkusitino Tae at Ryukyus, and a scholarship for Salise Faivaʻilo at Wroclaw.


Just before departing Tevita told Taimi ʻo Tonga: “I’ll always feel an obligation to ʻAtenisi. I owe what I now know to its commitment to critical analysis.”

So if you are aiming high, let ʻAtenisi guide your academic career. Current Form 6 or 7 students – and/or their families – are urged to promptly contact the dean at 26763 or e-mail dean@atenisi.edu.to regarding enrolment in February 2020.