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August 7, 2016 | by  | in One Ocean |
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One Ocean

I knew I couldn’t go through university on my own—or, rather, I didn’t see want to do it on my own. As a Pasifika first year needing friends I joined the Samoan Students’ Associations. The solidarity of that group really helped to make the shy, quiet, first-year-me more confident with meeting new people in new and unfamiliar spaces. In a city where the best coffee could be found, I felt like I belonged somewhere. Rowling wrote “there are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.” The group faced many a mountain troll and each time we overcame it, it brought us closer together. I owe a lot of my growth to that group and even though I’m not an active member, I take everything I learned with me.

I wanted to form more connections with other Pasifika and Māori students, and I found that in Te Pūtahi Atawhai. I found a community in which tagata o le moana and tangata whenua come together. Through mentoring, study spaces, free food, and just being able to korero and vent, I found another space to belong to. I made great friends from people who just always came on their lonesome to study and we connected through our common ethnic and cultural struggle at university.

More recently though, I’ve started feeling a sense of community with my non-Pasifika peers. As a young and timid girl fresh out of South Auckland, I needed to find other Pasifika people to feel more at home. However the security I found in my communities of Pasifika has enabled me to find meaningful connections with non-Pasifika. VUW is becoming more and more a home away from home.

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Newtown, between 1908-10. Photograph taken by Sydney Charles Smith. 1888-1972: Photographs of New Zealand. Courtesy of Alexander Turnbull Library. 1/1-019663-G

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