Paniani Patu (who goes by Pani) is the Manager of Education Support (Western Precinct) at University of Sydney Medical School. Pani leads the teams responsible for coordinating and delivering student teaching and education-related activities. Pani’s passion for education and our people is driven by the core values that underpin Pasifika culture and his own upbringing – love (alofa), reciprocity (feosia’i) and service (tatua). He’s worked in tertiary education for 9 years, focusing on student support and retention, curriculum delivery and educational outcomes for postgraduate students in medicine and health. Prior to this, Pani oversaw an inaugural community engagement initiative to strengthen ties and address growing concerns around Pasifika youth mental health, for Headspace Campbelltown.
Paniani Patu, Deputy Co-Chair
Born in Pōneke (Wellington), Aotearoa, Pani’s genealogical roots are in the villages of Moata'a, Vaiala, Safune & Lotofaga, and he’s a proud descendent of each of those family lineages. Pani migrated with his family to Sydney in the early 1990s so his father could pursue a medical residency in Australia. He now lives on the land of the Darug people (Sydney’s west) with his beautiful wife, Sapate, and their two amazingly bright, caring (albeit hard work) kids, Sulioapa and Marcella-Rose, both of whom love their Samoan and Tongan heritage.
In 2018, Pani completed a Master's in Public Health at the University of Sydney, which he hopes to use more in the conception, implementation and evaluation of more grassroots interventions and policy reform aimed at improving Pasifika health outcomes.
For Pani, of utmost importance is to stand in solidarity and amplify the voices of our First Nations mob. “There is so much untapped potential in our communities today and key to improving the graduate outcomes and opportunities for Pasifika and First Nations learners and educators, is by first attempting to dismantle the systemic and institutional barriers hindering our access, participation and success in education at all levels”.
Pani hopes that as an organisation, together we can continue to make inroads and advocate for social change and justice, through culturally grounded initiatives and policy reform. Areas of particular interest for Pani include tapping into the innovative ways of teaching and learning of our tua'ā (ancestors) and embedding these ideologies in contemporary pedagogical frameworks; establishing sustainable student pipelines to higher education and research through identified access schemes, scholarships, industry partnerships etc; and community-based participatory action and research (in health and education).
“The opportunity to genuinely give back and be able to guide and support Pasifika learners to thrive and realise their potential, achieve their goals, and be valuable contributors in their communities and society is truly rewarding”.
Pani’s advice to Pasifika educators in Australia is simple – be proud! “Our ancestors’ ways of knowledge and learning run in our veins. Never lose heart in the fight for social change and justice”.