This year speakers have been selected by a small team of dedicated volunteers after a rigorous short list process but we are interested in hearing from you if you would like to nominate someone to speak at next year’s event. Showcasing dynamic stories that have never been heard on a world stage from Pacific Islanders is critical to TEDxSuva so please nominate yourself or other speakers that you feel has a good story or idea to share. Please contact us via email here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Austin Bowden-Kerby
A leading expert in and creator of many of the most effective ways to restore coral degradation on reefs in the Caribbean and Pacific, Dr Austin Bowden-Kerby is a formidable TEDxSuva speaker.
He is recognised as a foremost expert in the restoration ecology of endangered Caribbean Acropora corals and a winner of the prestigious National Geographic Ashoka Changemakers Award for the Environment in 2011.
As one of the first pioneers in coral reef restoration or commonly referred to as ‘Coral Gardening’ in both the Pacific and Caribbean, Austin fine-tuned his innovative methods in the Caribbean during his doctoral studies focusing on Staghorn corals due to their similarities in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
He works to provide community workshops and has established coral nurseries in Fiji, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Honduras, and Belize. This work has also resulted in several students devoting their work and study to coral restoration.
Raised in the Pacific Islands, Austin has been married for 36 years and has four children and six grandchildren. A Fiji citizen, he operates a 37 acre permaculture farm and hatchery for climate adapted chickens. He also runs a small not-for-profit organisation in Fiji called ‘SELF: Sustainable Environmental Livelihoods for the Future’ while continuing to work with communities on coral restoration, coral reef management, the promotion of free range chickens as alternative protein to fish to support no-fishing areas.
Austin’s work has also been the focus of three BBC TV documentaries airing both nationally and internationally, viewed by millions of people around the planet.
Education: PhD Degree Univ. Puerto Rico, MS Degree Univ. Guam, BS Degree UNC Wilmington USA
Dr Jone Hawea
Dr Jone Hawea is a surgeon and has served in all major hospitals around Fiji including CWM, Lautoka and Labasa hospitals. As a surgeon much of his work revolved around diabetic amputations and he says he has been a contributor to ‘ Fijian statistics of one diabetic amputation every 12 hours’. He has also served in sudivisional hospitals. Dr Jone also served as Medical Officer in Peace Keeping Missions for two years and has done medical stunts in Niue and in New Zealand. Being a clinician has not stopped him from exploring holistic options that has sustained the health of our people for generations.
Dr Jone Hawea is the Medical Director of SMILE Health Initiative of FRIEND, a home grown NGO fighting against non communicable diseases. Fiji and the Pacific was declared in NCD crisis in 2011 by the Pacific Forum Leaders. SMILE stands for Sustainable Medicine – Improving Lives through empowerment and that’s what Dr Jone believes in- that people have the power and that through a holistic approach to health we have a better chance to beat NCDs.
Dr Jone is also the associate Director of Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises & Development, the local NGO that works towards empowering communities through social, economic and health empowerment. He is a keen rugby player and has been organizing a mix of sports in communities to ensure that men and women of all ages participate to ensure physical health.
Dr Jone is also a heartfulness meditation trainer and has been offering this service free of charge to ensure his patients find relief from stresses known to be contributing factors to non communicable diseases.
Frances Cresantia Koya Vaka’uta
Frances Cresantia Koya Vaka’uta is Associate Dean Research & Internationalization at the Faculty of Arts, Law & Education, at The University of the South Pacific. She teaches curriculum studies, education in small island developing states with a particular interest in Education for Sustainable Development and Rethinking Pacific island Education.
A poet and artist passionate about the state of education, development and the role that culture is downplayed in both areas has led to interesting uses of the arts and culture as advocacy, social learning tools and in educating for sustainable lifestyles.
Troubled by the state of education in the Pacific islands, her doctorate study explored the heritage art forms of tapa and tattooing in Samoa and Tonga as sites of knowing, learning being and becoming.
Jope Volavola Tarai
Jope Tarai is a research student and teaching assistant at the University of the South Pacific (USP) who spent his early years growing up in the interior parts of Fiji (Navosa/Nadroga and Lomaivuna) before moving to Suva.
Jopes life experiences led him to rethink what it means to be a Fijian man in today’s society or in essence the role and power a man plays. These experiences and growing up in a tumultuous household, facing a reality of domestic violence has also led into his work and research.
He is dedicated to research in areas of diplomacy, Pacific politics, youth development, social media and gender where he challenges the traditional structure and asks people to question the status quo. His interest in gender and politics is driven by the knowledge that decisions and social structure in these areas affect people’s lives every day.
Jope attended Assemblies of God Primary School (A.O.G) and Stella Maris before moving to Marist Brothers High School (MBHS) before completing his tertiary studies at the University of the South Pacific (USP).
Peter Sipeli has more than two decades of expertise in using and managing advocacy work with the use of artistic expression. He is an Arts Manager, creator and supporter of the spoken word arts movement in Fiji through his recently formed ‘The Poetry Shop’ and he works as a gay activist using story telling as a form of advocacy.
Beginning his career in the non-government sector as a human rights activist with Women’s Action for Change (WAC), he was also a founding member of the only feminist community radio station in the country dedicated to giving a voice to women’s issues in Fiji and the Pacific, femLINKPACIFIC.
Recently his work with the Fiji National University (FNU) at the College of Medicine integrated artistic ways to tell the challenging health stories that many local people face in overcoming the increasing non-communicable disease rates such as diabetes. This was curated by Sipeli in an exhibition called Sokota and then more recently he was the artistic force in the re-established Ratu Iloilovatu Public Art Gallery in Raiwai.
Peter’s drive to combine the need for access to culturally dedicated art with advocacy and storytelling while creating and nurturing platforms for aspiring artists to develop is at the core of his work both personally and professionally.
Sipeli is currently the manager of the RoC Market, a local street arts market in Suva and is a Project Manager working in Arts Therapy.
Sachiko Soro is a human that fell in love with dance and playing music at a young age which led to her spending most of her life doing it.
She founded the VOU Dance Company in Fiji more than 10 years ago which explores dance and its connection to Fiji and Pacific culture. The contemporary dance group provides scholarships for hopeful dancers and supports the careers of dancers by hiring them as full time professionals as she believes in creating fulfilling and sustainable career paths for Pacific artists.
The group has performed at events all over the world with 8 dancers heading to one of the world’s biggest cultural festivals the Glastonbury Festival in June this year. Along with touring worldwide, Sachiko also manages the two VOU Dance Schools in Suva and Nadi as she believes in sharing the energy, spirit and mana of Fijian contemporary dance with the planet.
Sachiko majored in dance in New Zealand and returned to Fiji to start the VOU Dance Company which connects us to the culture of Fiji and the Pacific through contemporary dance. She has two very cute babies, and a dancing machine husband that are all part of the story behind the success of the VOU Dance Company.
Sashi Kiran conceptualised and established a non-government organisation known as FRIEND in 2001 and set a dream in motion to see a Fiji that is socially and economically healthy.
FRIEND or the Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises & Development, works directly with communities to help them recognise their strengths such as coconut harvesting or dried fruit production and then assists them by providing skills, training and resources to help them step out of poverty and receive a regular and sustainable income.
The organisation works with grassroots communities and partners, youths, women, men, farmers, and people with disabilities around Fiji through social, economic and health empowerment programs.
FRIEND is a unique non-government organization (NGO) as it has a business arm known as TaTadra Pacifica that supports the work of the organisation to ensure grassroots products being developed like coconut oil or dried fruit find genuine markets. The profit of this work not only ensures FRIEND is sustainable into the future but it allows resourcing for its health initiative focused on lowering preventable diseases in Fiji known as the SMILE Community Health Initiative.
Sashi has worked in the community development sector for almost two decades. She has served on various National and International boards including serving on the Board of CIVICUS-World Alliance for Citizen Participation.
Currently she serves on the Board of Asia Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education. She also serves on the advisory Council of University of the South Pacific Lautoka Campus among other commitments.
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