Graduation, a family affair
4 May 2017
University of Waikato graduation this Friday (May 5) will be extra special for Kaikohe’s Campbell Gin. His siblings have come from all over New Zealand and Australia to see him graduate — the first time they have all been together since the death of their brother Wiremu in a car accident in February this year. The law and arts graduate is looking forward to reuniting with Taonui, Dana, Ahkim, Therese, Ahlun and Sarah, as well as 32 nieces and nephews.
“Wiremu had planned to be here for my graduation too. I am going dedicate my graduation to him,” Campbell says.
Campbell is the youngest of the eight Gin children and he credits his university success largely to his family support. He was raised by his father and siblings after his mother Rangimarie passed away from cancer when he was one year old. Campbell’s father William passed away after suffering a heart attack in 2012 and now the siblings are closer than ever.
Campbell will graduate with a conjoint Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Chinese. The Maori-Chinese student was the first in his family to re-visit his Chinese heritage. He first gained exposure to the language after teaching several Chinese people while on a two-year voluntary church mission in Melbourne.
He then moved to Sydney where he completed a qualification for teaching English as a second language. Having fallen in love with Chinese culture, Campbell moved to Northeast China to teach English at a primary-middle school, where he extended his contract twice. “I loved the Chinese culture; they are beautiful people,” he says.
In 2012, Campbell came home to do tertiary study so he could support his family in the future. He applied for the University of Waikato after speaking to the only other New Zealand couple in the Chinese town he was living in. “They told me that Waikato had a beautiful campus and a lower cost of living than other cities.”
Campbell surprised himself with his university achievements, stating that law was only ever a childhood dream to him. “I never thought it was something I would be able to do.”
He attributes his success to his hard-working nature and commitment. “A common myth is that you have to be a genius to do law. Personality wise, I’m just a grinder. Once I was accepted into university, I set the goal that failure wasn’t an option.”
Campbell is looking forward to honouring all the people who helped him along his journey: his lecturers, classmates and family. He will graduate alongside his sister Therese and niece Rosie.
“An inside joke in my family is that we want to create a legacy. We are setting a standard for the next generation,” Campbell says.