An institute for critical education in the South Pacific

A ʻAtenisi picture

Meʻetuʻupaki (2009)

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

On Saturday morning 9 Oct., the limelight of the university’s graduation ceremony was captured by the event’s guest speaker, Dianne Warner MBA, the veteran CEO of Skips Custom Joinery, Tonga’s leading manufacturer of furniture and cabinets.

Warner counseled the graduate of the day, Tuʻuʻiāhai Tuʻiʻafitu, to adhere to the following advice in his career: 1) accept criticism … but ignore sceptics who predict you’ll never achieve your goal; 2) overcome self-doubt through self-hypnosis; and 3) regard your mistakes as corrective tips rather than proof of incompetence.

Warner recounted how her late husband, Skip Westfall, founded her firm in 1989, but died suddenly a decade later. “I was surrounded by friends who doubted a woman could run a joinery in Tonga.” But with her factory poised again to post seven-figure revenue, no one is doubting Warner’s skills any longer.

Guest of Honour at the ceremony was the recently-appointed High Commissioner from Australia, Her Excellency Rachael Moore. Just before departing, Moore told university dean Dr Michael Horowitz she’d found Warner’s talk inspiring. AusAid’s flagship program on gender equality in the Pacific, “Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development”, aims to empower women to pioneer innovative solutions in the region.

Also in attendance were the CEO of the Ministry of Lands, Rosamond Bing LLB, and the university’s local MP, the Hon. Siaosi Pōhiva, MA. Pōhiva delivered the felicitations of the Legislative Assembly before advocating for a parliament fully subject to popular election, a longstanding demand of his faction of the Democratic Party.