An institute for critical education in the South Pacific

A ʻAtenisi picture

Inducted fellows with Dr Helu and Hon PM Sevele (2009)



For 47 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 States of America.

Message from the President

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

director's hand

Institute president (on leave)

ʻAtenisi registration


An affiliate of the Macmillan Brown centre
for Pacific studies


Latest news

June 2022 – ‘Atenisi Welcomes New NZ High Commissioner with Seafood Lunch on Campus

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Last update: 17 June 2022. Read more in… NZ High Com visit

Oct. 2021 – Female fortitude: the theme of ʻAtenisi’s graduation before Australia's High Commisioner

missing picture: diannenerachael.jpg Featured speaker Dianne Warner, MBA with guest of honour HE Rachael Moore

Last update: 28 November 2021. Read more in… 2021 graduation

July 2021 – HRH Princess Pilolevu attends opera concert by ʻAtenisi's veteran diva ʻAtolomake Helu

Make.jpg Vocalist ʻAtolomake Helu

Last update: 24 July 2021. Read more in… opera concert

Mar. 2021 – Leading Donor Economist, Saia Faletau, Advises Curriculum Development Component

missing picture: Falevai, Reams.jpg

Last update: 03 April 2021. Read more in… Faletau on board


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 July 2022.