A senior lecturer at the University of the South Pacific Dr Sunia Vosikata has been stranded in Niue for 3 months now.
Dr. Vosikata arrived in Niue in March to teach the masters in business administration course to the first cohort of students at the USP Niue campus. He was scheduled to return to Fiji in April however due to the travel restrictions his departure has been delayed.
“I was here to teach the 6 MBA courses and have completed the 6. Today I was supposed to go but there’s no flight but then I can’t really leave the students behind, I’ve done the work., I feel for them and they need me here as well to help them along with their revision so I said why not I’ll stay and I’m still here.”
During his time on the island, Dr. Sunia has used the time to also write up a regional research paper.
“As an academic, I have a lot of work. I’ve actually completed a paper on the robustness of surveying instruments in developing nations so I’ve just completed it and I’m trying to measure abstracts, abstracts are like errors see for example in a communal institution or country where there’s a lot of traditional ties, what we have is that people tend to follow their own kind so I was actually doing a survey on abstracts because with abstracts you cannot really do away with abstracts but you have to manage. Abstracts are errors, you have to manage them, so my paper will be interesting because in the Pacific there’s a lot of networking, in Niue there’s heaps of networking also so because abstracts or errors are part of management we may say infiltrate. For example, if a boss is from Hakupu, and the family is from Hakupu you look at who works for him, there are some kind of ties there especially in a country like this, in Fiji also where people are related so I’ve completed that work.
I am also a consultant for Airport Vanuatu, so I’ve just completed a strategic management policy for their master plan, and I’ve got another paper in line. An academic like me we have a lot of work even though I am here I’m writing every day and I have a schedule I have to go to the gym, I have to go to church that’s my schedule, I have to pray every day. See I’m very optimistic about the future so when you have a schedule being here I’m enjoying, so my point is I have to like Niue to make my stay enjoyable in the process I feel less stress because if I hate this place, oh my God I’ll go sit at the wharf every morning.” said Dr. Vosikata
The senior lecturer says he is dealing with the emotional impact of being away from his family in Fiji, his wife is managing their home with their three granddaughters who have been looking forward to his return only to be disappointed with the prolonged delays.
Dr. Sunia says he is being paid allowances by USP however he now only receives 39 percent of the normal per diem.
“ At the moment USP, actually I’m telling them what to do so I’ve told them I’m happy about Niue immigration and those in External Affairs who are doing a lot of work, so I’ve told them they’re trying to organize because at the moment I can’t transit because I have to stay in New Zealand for two days that’s a case for me to be asking New Zealand to stretch the law a bit if I can be allowed to be in quarantine for two days and then I come in the flight because I arrive in New Zealand on Tuesday night, the flight leaves for Fiji on Thursday morning so that’s the arrangement this side and I’ve also sent emails to the Prime Minister of Fiji, actually I’ve done that, the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is actually liaising with the New Zealand High Commission on the protocols and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
USP’s Deputy Vice Chancellor regional campuses and infrastructure has also written a letter to assist. My public service experience has come in handy now because I tell the institutions and stakeholders they must be connected, and I have done that. I came this morning I have got an itinerary revised because I was supposed to be on the flight yesterday but has been revised to the 27th so fingers crossed. I know the law is the law but good managers they tend to manage the flexibility around the law. “
For now while he awaits his returning flights to be confirmed, Dr Sunia says he’s also enjoying the COVID-19 free environment in Niue, consuming coconut crabs, taro and fresh produce on the island.