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Passing Of The Baton – Pacific Masters Graduate Admitted To Bar

Sabrina Salome Wright crossed the stage to receive her Master of Arts degree in Pacific Studies only days after being admitted to the bar.

Just two weeks ago Wright (Luatuanu'u, Leusoali'i, Salelologa, Gataivai and Tufutafoe) was in Sāmoa for the funeral of beloved Pacific leader and renowned educator FuatinoMelegalenu'u To'alepaiali'i Ah Sam MNZM.

The 27-year-old Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland graduate said both the late Ah Sam and her mother Faalogoifo Fanua have been the powerhouse mentors motivating her to pursue greatness.

“My mother is a transformational leader within our family and our church community in Sāmoa. Melegalenu'u has been someone that has been a pillar and door opener for my success, and that of many students and former students of Māngere College,” said the Papakura resident.

Wright was immensely grateful for the support and acknowledged that for many Pacific people, it was commonplace to hold extra roles and responsibilities outside of work.

“I think everybody has a village that holds them up, especially at university, especially for Pacific people who have other roles and responsibilities outside. I am a part of Every Nation Southside church, the Māngere College community; and in those spaces I have people that contribute to that growth and enable people to do better.”

Wright, the first daughter of a big family, came to Aotearoa from Sāmoa with her family 12 years ago. She currently works at the University, in the office of the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Pacific) - confidently walking the talk, as the Pacific Student Success Adviser.

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Her master's thesis in Pacific Studies looked at the pressing issue of climate change policy in Sāmoa, and she was fortunate to have Professor Yvonne Underhill-Sem as her supervisor. Wright said her research noted the discrepancies between policy, action, and funding.

“One of my main conclusions was the massive disconnect with institutions and nations like Sāmoa, that are most affected by climate change. Without funding and without enough resources, we’re never going to achieve the intended goal… we still need Pacific voices but inserting them into global climate change discussions is not enough.”

Being admitted to the bar was the icing on the cake after completing a conjoint Bachelor of Arts and Law degree several years ago.

“I saw it as an opportunity to help people, but my mum likes to say that I like to argue a lot,” she laughs. The Law degree allowed Wright to hone her skills properly and help her achieve her passion of helping people.

“Really the bottom line is I have a real passion to help people. Now I can use my best skills, experience, and knowledge to do the best for people.”

Wright says the loss of her father Tiatia Fanuaea six years ago had been difficult to navigate. She dedicated her academic success to him when she graduated three years ago with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree in Pacific Studies with First Class Honours.

Beset with a shoulder injury, she managed to complete her master's degree only a few weeks after having undergone surgery.

“Thankfully, my family have continued to bring out the best in me, especially in the last two years trying to finish my master's thesis.

When I've been unwell or needing support financially, mentally, and spiritually, I have found that my family did not need me to ask to be there, they have just been there, no questions asked My Koale, Tuiasosopo, Stretton and Savea – Toleafoa families were the pou supporting my siblings, mother and wider family through those tough times.”

Following in the footsteps of her mentors, Wright, the self-confessed lifelong learner will continue her studies with an interest in education to help improve outcomes for Pacific people.

Understanding the enormity of the work needed to support the Pacific region, especially with the impact of climate change being so close to home, she is eager to focus her research skills on policy and make a meaningful contribution.

Sabrina Salome Wright Lawyer.

© Scoop Media

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