Talofa Lava, Malo e lelei, Bula Vinaka, Fa’akalofa lahi atu, Kia Orana, Kia Ora and warm Pasifika Greetings,
On Thursday, 21 November 2019, we were fortunate enough to attend the first-ever “Its Island Time” Pasifika Inaugural Law Conference hosted at the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) South Campus in collaboration with the Pacific Lawyers Association (PLA). The conference brings together Pacific Law colleagues, aspiring students and those in working in legal advisory roles to connect, learn, and hopefully be inspired by experienced practitioners, many of whom are Pacific and well respected in their profession and to help us students make informed decisions about our futures and a possible career in law. Five of us Rutherford College’s Pasifika students had the opportunity to attend.
The conference was very informative and it was so empowering to see more evident representation of Polynesian men and women who were representing us, Pasifika and Maori people as one. We were introduced to Pacific lawyers and judges helping better our justice system, OUR people. Not to mention the fact that the event was Tagata Pasifika, an event run by and held for Pacific people.
At the conference, we had the privilege of meeting the Minister for Pacific Peoples in NZ’s Coalition Government, Hon. Aupito William Sio and heard his say on Pacific students and peoples aspiring in legal professions and the importance of ‘growing leaders’, helping us to recognize the opportunities we have in Aotearoa and the need for more Pacific people in the field of Law. In this conference we had also participated in two workshops, in one of them we were able to meet and converse with three highly esteemed court judges, who had told us about their lives as judges and some of the struggles they had met and still struggle with even today and advice or us students working towards similar fields. In another workshop, we witnessed courtroom foreplay, where real lawyers and judges were arguing and defending in a fixed case to show us what one of many different cases may look like.
We had an insight into the opportunities and privileges that come with being a lawyer or being involved in wider branches of law. It was great to see other Pasifika people that had an interest and a passion for this profession and their role and interest in the thriving population that is Pasifika people.
It was a great way for us students to get a scope and better view on taking and pursuing a career in law, and the potential opportunities it may progress into. People, like Minister Aupito, who are highly esteemed and are very high-ranking citizens, it amazes and inspires us to see a person of Pasifika heritage so high ranked among people in the judicial system among others in the government. But it’s the goal of the Pacific Law Association(PLA) to make it less of a rare occurrence and make it common for Pasifika people to take up government positions.
The PLA has most definitely widened our choices and altered our perspective on how much more good we are capable of doing in our possible career paths and maybe some of us will now go down a path of law, in hopes of filling the positions of high-ranking lawyers and other delegates which we saw and met at the conference.
Fa’afetai Lava for the experience.
Photo Caption: with her Honour Judge Ida Malosi, District Court Judge, Manukau