PT&I co-sponsors university’s Pacific Challenge (V2-S1-16)

Pacific Trade & Invest (PT&I) NZ is excited to announce a co-sponsorship of the University of Canterbury’s 21 Day Pacific Challenge. 

University of Canterbury students competing in the 21 day Pacific Challenge this year.

University of Canterbury students competing in the 21 day Pacific Challenge this year. (Photos: University of Canterbury/ Facebook).

Niue Island is the focus of this year’s challenge starting with a special launch at the University on May 5. Five teams have just 21 days to come up with the best project proposal to help a community solve an issue and get it in for judging by May 25.

PT&I Trade Commissioner Michael Greenslade said, “We are delighted to partner the University of Canterbury in the 21 Day Pacific Challenge.  We are excited by this project and we look forward to participating.  We are a committed long term partner to this exciting programme.”

When he was originally approached by Professor Sussie Morrish and Glen Baxter from the University it was “an almost instant meeting of minds.”

“Sustainability is an overused word but it is really important from an economic development perspective that these projects have the potential for ongoing viability. Innovation through new eyes was also a very attractive proposition for us.”

Mr Greenslade who will be one of the judges said, “I am looking forward to the judging panels – best wishes to the teams in the 21 Day Pacific Challenge.” PT&I’s Eleanor Ikinofo would also be available to assist.

University of Canterbury 21 Day Pacific Challenge Project leader, Associate Professor Sussie Morrish from the College of Business and Law said, “The University of Canterbury 21 Day Pacific Challenge is delighted to have the Pacific Islands Trade and Invest as sponsor. This signals the commitment of the Challenge to help UC students apply and acquire new skills in finding suitable and sustainable solutions to real problems confronting the Pacific region. It is heartening to see PT&I support student initiatives that prepares graduates for future regional and international leadership.”

This year the 21-Day challenge tasks students to help Niue Island to conserve, protect and sustainably manage its food supply with a view to becoming self-sufficient using a $10,000 budget.  But the timing is tight. The competition, in its second year and very popular, started on April 4. The successful students were chosen by a panel and announced at the end of April.

The 25 students are split into five teams and must submit a completed business and development plan for judging by May 25. The top three proposals will be selected by judges and the winning team announced at a special event on May 30. The winners then leave for Niue on 29 June, their prize, an all-expenses paid one week trip to Niue to action their project.

Niue Island is a small coral atoll in the Pacific with a population of around 1,500 people. The government is democratically elected and Niue is in free association with New Zealand and Niueans are New Zealand citizens. Tourism is its biggest earner, exports are limited and New Zealand is a major donor to the economy.

Similar to reality TV shows ‘The Apprentice’ or the ‘Amazing Race’ or ‘Survivor’ competitors are put into a pressure cooker situation working against time in teams with people they may not have met before. Coming from diverse degree backgrounds ranging from engineering to science, maths, marketing, linguistics and law, different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds students must cooperate and apply their learning and skills to a real situation and gain valuable experience by being exposed to other cultures and issues.

Each group has access to some of the 18 mentors – a who’s who of prominent business and organisation leaders. There are also six cultural mentors from the local Niue community to call on and Academic mentors from last year’s winners – The Bee Team. The Bee Team project involved cultivating native bees for organic honey and establishing a beekeeping co-operative for the Barangay Tarong community in the Philippines. Team members said the challenge was a unique and memorable opportunity to see their work come to life. Overall an experience of a life time and one they would always remember.

The creative initiative is well supported by Dr Rod Carr, Vice-Chancellor of the University and the team of Professor Sonia Mazey, Pro Vice-Chancellor College of Business and Law.  From the competitor handbook Dr Carr said the university’s key goals were “to produce graduates who have the skills to make an informed and genuine contribution to local, national and international communities.”

For more information email Ellie Ikinofo, PT&I NZ on

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