Eleven Pacific Island law students will cross the stage during Victoria University of Wellington graduation next week, the most Pacific law graduates to take part in a single ceremony.
Master of Laws graduate Lagi Tuimavave is amongst them and says the driving motivation behind the achievements of these students is their families.
“My family and I came to New Zealand from a rural area in Samoa on an immigration quota when I was 11 years old,” she says.
She says her parents didn't get a higher education and the family lived frugally.
“My parents had a big dream to give us a great education and all I wanted was to make them proud and honour them because of the sacrifices they have made for us,” she says.
A high-achieving student, Lagi Tuimavave was the recipient of five Victoria University of Wellington scholarships and awards while studying towards her undergraduate and Master’s degrees.
The eldest of five children, Lagi was inspired to be a role model for her younger siblings. Serving on the executive body of the Pasifika Law Students Society throughout her time at the university, Lagi says most of the Pasifika students in this cohort of graduates have the same motivation for their studies as she does.
“When I joined the Pasifika Law Students Society in 2012 it had only been going for two years. I organised academic support for students and helped to create a ‘home’ for the very small number of Pasifika students within the Faculty—it was wonderful,” she says.
Attending the Pasifika Law and Culture International Conference three times during her studies, Lagi has watched the numbers of Pacific law students grow.
She also had the opportunity to meet Pacific Island members of the New Zealand judiciary such as Sir Anand Satyanand, Judge Ida Malosi and more recently, Judge Soana Moala, while studying at the university.
“That made it possible for people like me to dream beyond my means,” she says.
Lagi Tuimavave graduated from Victoria University of Wellington in 2015 with a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts majoring in Samoan Studies and Cultural Anthropology. She gained her Master of Laws in 2018 and now works as a solicitor at Wellington Family Law.