ʻATENISI INSTITUTE

An institute for critical education in the South Pacific

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Oct. 2017 - Quality, not Numbers, Define Prestige

Moala's Insightful Address at Institute's 50th Anniversary

missing picture: Moala.jpg

Legendary publisher Kalafi Moala

missing picture: grads2017.jpg Prospective associate dean Dr Lorenz Gonschor with graduates ʻAlokoʻulu ʻUlukivaiola and Rev. Marvin E. Stow.

Taimi ʻo Tonga publisher, Kalafi Moala – once a political prisoner in the mid-1990s, now a legendary pioneer of media freedom – was the featured speaker at the 50th anniversary celebration of ‘Atenisi Institute, held at the Scenic Hotel in Tongatapu’s Fua’amotu district 28 October. Conflated with the event was the University's 33rd graduation ceremony.

Following his address, Moala, on faculty request, conferred a Master of Arts diploma on graduate Rev. Marvin E. Stow and Bachelor of Arts diploma on graduate ‘Aloko’ulu ‘Ulukivaiola. Coincidentally, Rev. Stow’s postgraduate study was in the publisher’s field of expertise – communication.

Over the course of Moala's career, ‘Atenisi’s tertiary enrolment has decreased from over 100 to a talented dozen, largely as a result of political persecution. “But it’s quality, not numbers, that make a university,” the journalist contended. And in preceding remarks, institute director Sisi'uno Helu also saluted the university's achievement in the face of adversity: "Our students may be low in number but they have defied the odds and soared through the storm. In the words of my late father ['Atenisi founder Dr 'I. Futa Helu], they have proven themselves 'heavy-duty scholars'."

Later in the programme, university dean Dr Michael Horowitz described how, in fact, 'Atenisi maintains quality. He began by noting that several universities in his native U.S. boast enrolments of over 50,000. “But two years ago, after ‘Atenisi graduate Tevita Manu’atu left his father’s kava business to pursue a Master’s degree at Northern Illinois University, he soon outperformed graduates from those behemoths. And the reason is that intimate seminars with international scholars enable our students to own their education. Whilst on campus our top students clamour for trailblazing assignments. They do that to enhance the brand, their brand. ‘Atenisi doesn’t belong to the Helu family, it doesn’t belong to the dean – it belongs to its students and they know it.”

Among other community leaders, the celebration was attended by H.E. Sarah Walsh, NZ High Commissioner; Rosamond Bing LLB, CEO of the Ministry of Lands; Nicholas Karr, programme director of U.S. Peace Corps’ Tonga post; Paula Manu of the finance division of the Ministry of Education; and Pesi and Mary Lyn Fonua, publisher and managing editor of Matangi Tonga.

Following the event, Rev. Stow personally thanked institute director Sisi’uno Helu for the salient instruction he received at the university. “My studies helped me become a more competent pastor,” he told her. “They provided a coherent strategy for communicating with my congregation, as well as broadening my intellectual horizon and expanding my spiritual vocabulary. I’m grateful to ‘Atenisi for the education I received.”