Executive Director of VTP Solomon Islands
Born and raised on Taumako, Simon Salopuka left for boarding school at 11 years old in pursuit of education. He was the first Taumakan to go to universitey, and the first to earn an advanced degree (BS and MA), “Doc Simon” is a born leader.
“Doc Simon” temporarily puts aside his career in medicine and public health to learn how to build and sail Te Puke. He leads from the Honiara Base of VTP, coordinating with the Solomon Islands Office of Education, assisting in translations, facilitating logistics, and serving as medical officer during voyages. Because he spent most of his life away at school he was extremely eager to learn anything and everything about Kastom. He now lives in Honiara and is considering job offers that would pay him a living wage.
Doc Simon, Luke Vaikawi, and other Taumako leaders registered the Vaka Taumako Project of the Solomon Islands/Vaka Valo Association (VTPSI/VVA) as a charitable organization with tax exempt status in the Solomon Islands. They receive donations and grants, and organized for-profit activities to fund the not-for-profit educational programs of the VTP.