The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration (MFAI) have joined four staff and their families in celebrating their graduation with leadership, compliance, and management qualifications during a ceremony held at the National Auditorium this afternoon.
MFAI graduates included Immigration Officer Tangi Rakei and Compliance Officer Phillip Metuariki, who completed their Certificates, Level 4, in Leadership and Management alongside Human Resource Management Support, Maya Solomon, and Foreign Service Officer for International and Trade Division, Ria Arthur, who completed their New Zealand Diploma in Business, Level 5, Leadership and Management.
The graduation ceremony, hosted by the Cook Islands Tertiary Training Institute (CITTI) was a swarm of smiling graduates who were joined by family, colleagues and friends in the celebrations.
Foreign Service Officer for International and Trade Division, Ria Arthur, said, "I chose leadership, management, and business studies because it aligns with my day-to-day work overseeing MFAI's trade desk, including relationship management of line ministries, business representatives, and counterparts in negotiations and implementation aspects of trade agreements. "It is my intention to move into business in the future, so this accomplishment expands my skills, knowledge, and networks."
Immigration Officer, Tangi Rakei said, "My learnings have given me renewed enthusiasm for my work and confidence in how I interact with my colleagues. This is also a first step in working towards my Diploma, and I hope to continue studying to advance in my career."
Financial support towards the course fees for the MFAI graduates was provided through the 'Fees Free' initiative introduced by Government in 2020 during COVID-imposed border closures.
The 'Fees Free' initiative enabled residents to undertake courses at CITTI, the University of the South Pacific (USP) Cook Islands Campus, and the Centre of Excellence in Information Technology (CEIT) without having to pay for associated enrolment fees.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Secretary Tepaeru Hermann said, "We're very proud of our staff who graduated today. "It has been a challenging three years with COVID-forced border closures, and the consequent significant adjustments to staff and ministry operations to support border closures, government support to business and community, the national vaccination program, re-opening of borders and support to business and community as we've reopened and re-engaged with the rest of the world.
"Amidst these challenges, our staff have continued to strive to higher learning and expand their capabilities, so their graduation today has our respect and gratitude. In-country training and capability development opportunities such as this are critical to the retention and recruitment challenges experienced across all sectors. We hope this support can continue to be provided in the months ahead."
Eligible levels of study across all three institutions include certificate, diploma, and partial undergraduate degree-level courses in a range of tertiary and vocational courses.