When Zipporah Lagaluga signed up to do a 100-level Pacific Islands Studies paper in her first year, she thought ‘I already know all this, being a Pacific Islander myself’. Instead, the paper “blew my mind because it was about issues that I knew very little about, or was even unaware of, such as shanty towns and what was happening to older people in the Pacific Islands”.
Zipporah went on to major in Pacific Islands Studies for her Bachelor of Arts and loved it. “I really enjoyed looking at specific case studies, especially in the Polynesian area and Niue, where I’m from. It gave me a different perspective on how I value my culture within the context of living in New Zealand. It changed my world view and there are many overlaps and links with Law, which I also studied.”
In her third year Zipporah tutored for Te Tumu - School of Māori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies. “I remember in my first year hiding in the corner, and now I was in front of the classroom myself. Te Tumu gave me a great opportunity for personal growth, I learned a lot and was able to give back too.”
Before coming to Otago, Zipporah did a lot of research and decided that Otago had a good campus lifestyle. “I come from a big Niuean family who are based in Auckland and I wanted a change of scenery. I wanted to see if I could be independent and felt that Dunedin was the best place to grow as a person. It took me a bit to get used to the cold but now I miss it!”
Zipporah has recently completed her Professional Legal Studies course and is in the process of applying for her licence from the New Zealand Law Society. “I want to work in family and employment law – there’s a huge need for Pacific people.”