Island and Ocean Ecosystems
5 December 2013, Suva Fiji - By Priya Chand, journalism student at USP:- Ms. Taranaki Seiuli never understood the full value of nature conservation until she landed a job as an information management officer at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
Ms Taranaki Seiuli, Information Management Officer, SPREP

Being around "nature conservation enthusiasts" for the past six months has opened her eyes to the need for such advocacy and support, said Ms. Seiuli.

"When you see these organisations being so committed to saving the environment, you automatically connect to it yourself," she said.

"You feel glad that you are part of something that helps people and makes a difference in the world."

Ms. Seiuli's duties involve providing relevant information to SPREP and other organisations that request it.

Other than environment conservation, she said her greatest passion in life is her Christian Faith.

She said her faith preached care for creation.

"Because of my faith, I believe that nature is God's gift to us and I believe that we should take care of it," she said.

"Thus, the person who cares for nature and its creatures is a wise person."

Slipping back into the distant past, Ms. Seiuli recalled that whenever she heard a significant amount of funds was being allocated toward environment work, she never quite understood it.

"I always thought why so much money was being invested into it when it could be used to feed the homeless and spent on other things," she said.

"Then when I started working at SPREP, I realised that these were people who were genuinely interested in making a change and that they were doing something real."

She said she hoped more people, especially the youths who are the upcoming leaders, wake up and support the effort in whatever small way possible.

"I hope that through this conference, the same happens to those who are like I was," said Ms. Seiuli.

Priya Chand is a member of the Media Team providing coverage of the 9th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas from 2 to 6 December in Suva, Fiji. This is a partnership between the Fiji National University (FNU), University of the South Pacific (USP), SPREP and Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) whereby a team of 10 journalism students are mentored by senior reporters as they cover the conference. This activity is funded by the Pacific Assistance Media Scheme (PACMAS).