Pacific scholarship honours first Samoan graduate

 Closing the circle, Sir Michael Jones completed his university studies with the support of a scholarship, and is offering similar support to a Pacific law student.

In 1989, young All Black Michael Jones was supported in his study at the University of Auckland by the inaugural Lion Nathan Pacific Youth Leadership scholarship. Now, Sir Michael and his wife Maliena have closed the circle and announced the Olive Malienafau Nelson Pasifika Scholarship for Excellence, also designed to support outstanding Pacific students.

Sir Michael Jones and Lady Maliena Jones [Photo by University of Auckland]

The new $10,000 per year scholarship was established to honour and celebrate the legacy of the late Olive Malienafau Nelson (Maliena’s grandmother), the first Pacific graduate, the first Samoan graduate, one of the first women graduates of Waipapa Taumata Rau and the first woman to practise law in Samoa, where she made a notable contribution to drafting the country’s constitution.

It opened for applications on 20 September 2022 to Pacific students undertaking Part III or Part IV of an LLB or LLB (Hons) degree. It is the Auckland Law School's first endowed Pacific scholarship.

Sir Michael and Lady Maliena Jones said the scholarship was an opportunity to acknowledge the achievements of Olive.

“Unfortunately, she died before I had the chance to know her, but I do know that like her father (Ta’isi Olaf Frederick Nelson, one of the leaders of the peaceful Mau movement for Samoan independence), she was passionate about Samoa and about its people having the opportunities to succeed,” Maliena said.

“We feel she would have very much been in favour of being able to support a Pacific student – one who both excels academically and demonstrates a strong commitment to their culture and community.”

Sir Michael graduated from the University in 1988 with a Bachelor of Town Planning and a Bachelor of Arts (Geography and Anthropology) and a Master of Arts in Geography (1992). In 1997 the University presented him with a Distinguished Alumni Award to honour his outstanding contribution to society.

The scholarship is funded through the Olive Malienafau Nelson Legacy Fund, set up by the Sir Michael Jones Foundation, to encourage excellence in academic study, leadership and service by Pacific students in the Faculty of Law. It is an annual scholarship established in perpetuity with an endowment to ensure it will continue for generations. 

Source : University of Auckland

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