For Cook Islands Language Week AUT, who are honouring Pacific Language Weeks through a series of short videos, are focussing on the sustainable development goal ‘Life Below Water’, which champions conservation and the sustainable use of our seas, oceans and marine resources.
“We wanted to create some real depth by addressing issues that are important to Pacific communities, both here in New Zealand and in the Pacific Islands,” says Walter Fraser, Head of Pacific Advancement at AUT.
Kylie Herman, President of the AUT Cook Islands Student Association, says that as a child growing up in Aitutaki, one of the most beautiful things she can remember are the crystal blue waters.
She is currently finishing a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Business Management and Event Management.
“Through my research, I found that 50-60 percent of the Cook Islands’ economy is reliant on tourism. And, tourism is reliant on the environment.”
Antony Vavia, who is Cook Island-Fijian, knew that he wanted to be a marine biologist at intermediate school. He imagined a career where he could travel and explore different oceans, and witness a world that few others would lay eyes on.
Now, he is in the third-year of a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology at AUT.
“One of my goals is to promote sustainable aquaculture practices, not only in order to provide food without exploiting the environment, but to increase the diversity of our wildlife,” he says.
Last year, Vavia was the recipient of the Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Award for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
“I’d love to take my knowledge and skills to the Pacific and make a real difference. Not many Pacific people enter the field of science. But, with our homelands affected by climate change and other issues, marine biology is increasingly important.”
Vavia hopes to one day launch a sustainable aquaculture firm and create a marine reserve in the Pacific.