Te Hautū Kahurangi | Tertiary Education Union is delighted to welcome Toeolesulusulu Damon as the new Vice-Chancellor of Te Wānanga Aronui o Tāmaki Makaurau | Auckland University of Technology.

Currently the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Pacific) at the University of Auckland, award-winning Pacific scholar Associate Professor Salesa will join AUT with a background and skillset unlike any other Vice-Chancellor in Aotearoa New Zealand history.

Albert Fitisemanu, Pasifika representative on TEU Council was ‘blown away’ by the news. ‘Huge! Just great. A long-time coming. For the Pasifika community, Toeolesulusulu Damon will bring a fresh approach to teaching and learning and a deep understanding of Pasifika engagement and the challenges around that.’

‘Furthermore, this appointment tells us we can occupy these spaces in academia despite the distinct lack of Pasifika we’ve seen in the upper ranks of academia and leadership in the past. The ancient Sāmoan proverb tells us that the way to great leadership is through knowing how to humbly serve. Ole ala ile pule ole tautua, reflects the amazing service Damon has shown to his Pasifika community. Fa’amalō le tautai manuia, i lau afioga Toeolesulusulu Damon Salesa ma fa’amanuia tele le Atua i ou faiva alofilima.’

TEU Tangata Pasifika Advisory Group co-chair Loma-Linda Tasi said, ‘As an Aotearoa New Zealand born Sāmoan, he can see things from both worlds, and I believe he will be dynamic and transformational in the role. All in all, he has a set of talents and skills that can move AUT in exciting directions.’

David Sinfield, TEU’s Branch President at AUT is also looking forward to Associate Professor Salesa taking the reins. ‘It’s heartening to see that the Chancellor and University Council have appointed a person of Associate Professor Salesa’s mana and progressive background. We hope to meet with him as soon as possible and talk about our shared goals and how we can continue the strong working relationship our union has had with AUT management in the past.’

In a statement released by AUT, Associate Professor Salesa says ‘AUT is New Zealand’s tech university, a pace-setter in the social, educational and economic transformation in Aotearoa New Zealand. I am excited by the opportunity to lead AUT on the next leg of its journey of excellence, Te Tiriti partnership, equity and service to our city, nation, region and the world.’

‘For twenty years AUT has been the most remarkable story in Aotearoa New Zealand tertiary education, showing how the pursuit of excellence can be set on a foundation of service, inclusion and close relationships with our communities, businesses and stakeholders.’