The MALOSI Project co-directors Veronica Semau (Saleaula, Sataua, Vavau in Samoa & Nui in Tuvalu) and Paris Seu (Saoluafata, Samata, Eva and Siumu in Samoa) speak with Ruby Macomber about honouring pathways for service, representation, and faith. They unpack how the association began and what the future holds.
Founded by Fuimaonohe Dylan Asafo in 2016, the MALOSI Project goes from strength to strength each year, maintaining a pathway for Pasifika law students at the University of Auckland to give back to their communities. Named after the country’s first Pacific Island female judge, Ida Malosi, the kaupapa focuses on serving communities that may not otherwise see themselves in tertiary education, especially in the legal field.
At her first workshop in 2021, Veronica was moved by her conversations with students. For some, University was never a place they saw themselves in. Hence, the MALOSI Project became a way to empower and speak life into communities students held close. ‘My parents always told me I could do whatever I set my mind to,’ and so for Veronica, her interest in being involved came from an opportunity to speak life into other students. Meanwhile, co-director Paris discovered the association while attending Project Tomorrow in Semester Two of 2022. She was both drawn to the purpose of the MALOSI Project and inspired by how Veronica paved the way for service.
‘Before we even get to policy making, kids aren’t thinking they can make it to uni.’
The association serves low-decile high schools to demonstrate to teina that Pasifika peoples belong in tertiary spaces. Over the years, this focus has expanded to facilitating workshops, mooting competitions, and attendance at career expos. School-based workshops include presenting what Uni life is like, support available for Pasifika students, and talanoa sessions for connections between volunteers and school students. Alongside this, the MALOSI Project coordinate with community law centres to run outreach programmes, a further way Pasifika law students may serve and learn skills.
‘The MALOSI Project works to nurture the God-given oratory skills of Pasifika youth, passed down from generation to generation.’
The purpose of hosting events at the University City Campus is simple. ‘The power of our interactions cannot be understated. It is important our students see our faces. We bring them to uni; there’s a bunch of us here.’ Semester One saw the MALOSI Project bring around 90 high school students to the Fale Pasifika from South and West Auckland schools, including Tangaroa College, Sir Edmund Hillary College, Māngere College, Kelston Boys’ High School and Wesley College. These teina were treated to the knowledge, compassion and time of 30 MALOSI Project volunteers. ‘For many volunteers, seeing these kids is a reminder of our parent’s struggles.’ The warmth and eagerness of volunteers to serve with humility is a testament to how much love exists in this space.
‘Shout out to our volunteers! Many don’t realise how much of an impact they have until they participate in an event. MALOSI is nothing without volunteers.’
Volunteers also make an impact by sharing their stories via the MALOSI Project’s social media platforms. The Voyage Series captures the journeys of Pasifika law students: their whakapapa, the places they cherish, their ‘why’, their blessings, and those they have to thank for their success. ‘As Pasifika law students, we need each other’– sharing stories online demonstrates an extension of MALOSI’s aspiration to bridge the gaps between people and purpose.
‘You can be here. You can make it here.’
With co-directors operating on two-year terms, Veronica’s term will end later in the year, while Paris has one year remaining. The kaupapa is responsive to the community’s needs, so what the future holds for the MALOSI Project is unknown. However, the current team hope the kaupapa continues to advocate before the fact so that our Pasifika youth aspire bravely. Both co-directors hope the team continue to move in unity.
Proposed future events aim to demonstrate to high school students that they ‘don’t have to leave their culture at the door’ when entering University. Collaboration with cultural associations affirms that, just as there are numerous reasons teina choose to attend University, there are also multiple ways to experience University life. The MALOSI Project is currently looking for new executive members. Visit their Instagram page @themalosiproject or email email@example.com for more information.
‘None of this would be possible without the Lord. All Glory to God.’