Dr Maiono fulfils promise to grandfather to be the first from his village to graduate from University of Otago

Dr Maiono fulfils promise to grandfather to be the first from his village to graduate from University of Otago

By Mosese Raqio
Tuesday 14/05/2024
Jekope Maiono PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON

Growing up in the village of Vatulele, Cikobia in Vanua Levu, Jekope Maiono made a promise to his grandfather before leaving the village to go and study at the University of Otago that he would be the first from his village to graduate from that University.

After fulfilling that promise, Dr Maiono is now committed to using his knowledge to help save his village here in Fiji.

Over the weekend, Dr Maiono graduated with a PhD in Fijian Sustainable Land Development from the University of Otago.

Dr Maiono says he always remembers his grandfather’s word of advice to him before he left for New Zealand and that was to go and finish his studies and come back to Fiji and help the people in his village.

He says he had a feeling of gratitude that he was in a position with all the resources and the people that came into his life that opened the door, accepted him and encouraged him that he could do it.

He adds in the context of where he came from, it is not really just a one-person thing but it is the whole name of an island that contributes to something like this.

Dr. Maiono moved to New Zealand in 2006, completing a Bachelor of Commerce in Management at the University of Otago in 2013.

After receiving his first degree, he went on to complete his Masters in Sustainable Business and a Postgraduate Certificate in Health Science — spending a total of 13 years studying at the university.

Dr Maiono’s home island has a population of about 200 people.

For Dr Maiono’s PhD, he decided to focus his studies on his village and how they embraced climate change and the ways in which they resiliently survive.

It was Dr Maiono’s life goal to give back to his community.

He says in NZ, when there are hardships, they still live in a nice warm house and still have food on the table but for the people in his village, it is totally different as they just want to survive.

Dr Maiono says the next step is to continue the work that he has been doing in his village and to make sure people have basic needs like food, water and shelter so that they are not deprived of their human rights.

He says part of his plan was to educate his community about the importance of creating a sustainable system for their continued survival.

Dr Maiono stresses the importance of having a purpose to help one achieve goals that otherwise felt out of reach.

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