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SEED projects 2017 – Writing, Writing Everywhere

Vaka: Navigating Pacific Postgraduate Horizons

Dr Jemaima Tiatia-SeathDr Jemaima Tiatia-Seath (Faculty of Arts)

This project’s resources were originally developed for students of Pacific Studies ( Faculty of Arts and Pacific Health ) and students in the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences. Vaka is an interdisciplinary Pacific postgraduate research and knowledge hub and includes Pacific postgraduates at each stage: Honours, PG Diploma, Masters, Doctoral, and Postdoctoral. Vaka membership grew from 25 to 37 students in 2017. Its primary objective is to develop and nurture a critical mass of Pacific postgraduate students and staff, and actively seek ways to enhance student learning by exploring new horizons and shaping student excellence. Part of Vaka’s success is that it observes and promotes Pacific diversity, epistemologies and pedagogies. It cultivates Pacific student-academic-community connectivity, reciprocity, and collaboration, much akin to a collective impact model. The involvement of Pacific staff, and networking with community leaders and funders enables students to aspire to, and bear witness to, the ‘fruits of academic success’ from people who have. in fact, walked in their shoes.

The project aimed to: have a minimum of four student grant applications submitted to the 2017 rounds of the Health Research Council’s Career Development Awards, Faculty Summer Research Scholarships and internal PBRF proposals for research expenses for Masters and PhD projects, It also aimed to support students to write applications for competitive external grants, to write blogs and to prepare journal articles; to facilitate cross-faculty student-staff co-authorship for papers and the creation of new research collaborations; and to expand students’ Pacific academic and community networks.

Activities included: Meet and greet with students and academic staff; Writing workshop that detailed the journal article submission process and thesis writing structures (facilitated by CLeaR); Health Research Council (HRC) Award application writing workshop facilitated by HRC’s Pacific Research Manager; Regular email and Facebook page updates for members around scholarships, research, postgraduate tips, and employment opportunities; Supervisors’ input (sourcing funding streams for students to present at national and international conferences and ongoing mentoring and development of young emerging Pacific researchers); A three-day writing retreat which allowed students to complete journal articles, grant applications, book chapters and theses chapters.