Ocean of Pacific talent celebrate graduation

posted: 1:00 pm - 10th May 2018
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(Picture caption: The academic success of over 400 Pacific graduates was celebrated at the University of Auckland's Pacific Graduands Ceremony. CREDIT UoA/Eventbrite) 

The success of more than 400 Pacific graduates has been celebrated at the recent Pacific Graduands Ceremony at the University of Auckland.

Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry for Pacific Peoples and Auckland University alumni Laulu Mac Leauanae was a key note speaker at the event where he delivered an inspirational speech to the graduates from across the academic spectrum at all levels.  

Minister for Building and Construction, Ethnic Communities and Associate Minister, Education, Health, Housing and Urban Development, Hon. Jenny Salesa was also a guest speaker at the celebration for graduates, drawn from across New Zealand's Pacific communities. 

Having studied Law at Auckland University “a long time ago”, Mac says the campus landscape has changed a great deal since his days there.

“When I first graduated here with a Bachelor of Laws, there really was no Pasifika presence on campus,” Mac says.  

“Certainly, a graduand celebration like this would probably have been little more than a family affair.”

While the number of graduates this year has increased by 50, perhaps the most significant feature of this year’s class is that the majority of people graduating are young women, Mac says.

“This is clear evidence of how traditional attitudes are changing and how more and more young Pasifika women are entering on career paths which were simply not available to their elder sisters.

“These young women will, in turn, be the leaders of further generational change and will open up new pathways for the next generation.”

While society has changed dramatically, Mac says some of those positive changes can be attributed to previous Pacific graduates, who have gone onto build careers.   

“I don’t pretend that we drove all those changes, but we all went on to forge careers in what for Pacific people were largely new fields and to help in our small way to change attitudes and expectations,” he says.   

As the CE for MPP, Mac says it is his role todrive forward even further the social changes that have made the graduand ceremony possible, and to help ensure all Pasifika reach their potential.

“It’s at once a humbling and an inspiring challenge.

“But when I look at the large graduating class assembled here tonight, there is no doubt in my mind we can get there.

“We can build a better future where all Pasifika have an opportunity to make the most of their talents and share in a prosperous future.”

All of the recent graduates have the potential to lead and build a better world, Mac adds.

“Leadership is not just about personal success, it is also about bringing others along with you.

“It’s about opening pathways for those who come after you and providing a role model that can inspire others and it is about making the world a better place for your having been a part of it.”

Mac has also challenged the graduates to give back to their communities to build a better future for all.

The event was well attended, with graduands, their families and friends as well as VIPs, including the Minister Salesa and university senior staff.