Tayla Afoa

Bachelor of Laws, Bachelor of Arts

Law, Political Science, Philosophy

Key Info

  • Bachelor of Laws
  • Bachelor of Arts
  • Law
  • Political Science
  • Philosophy
  • Prime Minister’s Scholarship for Asia

What made you choose Waikato?

When I came down for Orientation, the campus caught my eye instantly – the lakes are beautiful, everything is close together, the uni itself is away from the bustling city, and the campus has its own student vibe. Once I got a feel of what the classes and the people were like, I could see myself developing in this area.

What’s your favourite subject and why?

Advocacy; you get an incredible insight into the practical side of law. You experience mock trials, client interviewing, arbitration and negotiations.

What does a typical day look like for you?

As well as going to my lectures and tutorials, I’m a Māori mentor for the Faculty of Law, and the Departments of Philosophy and Political Science. Essentially I look after students who need help or guidance, whether academic or pastoral. I try to come to Uni every day, even on the weekends. My days consist of classes, training, individual study, mentoring and volunteering – plus I usually catch a coffee with a friend.

Congratulations on winning the Prime Minister’s Scholarship for Asia! What did that involve?

Being chosen to represent the University of Waikato in Vietnam was an absolute privilege. It was a great opportunity to learn about Vietnam’s legal and political system, experience the Vietnamese culture, and challenge myself to try new things. On top of the trip itself, part of the criteria was to compete in the Pacific-Asia Law Student Arbitration Competition. My team mate and I managed to place first. Go Waikato, NZ!

What do you like about studying at Waikato?

There is a sense of competitiveness, but it's healthy competition because it’s wrapped in values of tautoko (support) and whanaungatanga (a relationship through shared experiences). We're all on the same waka while being at University – and the destination is to get off the waka with that little paper and graduation cap.

How have you changed during your time here?

I was very shy when I first started. I had low self-esteem and I didn’t even think I could graduate with a law degree. The support I had from my friends and family developed my confidence, and I began putting myself out there more. I started signing up for more competitions to test my advocacy skills, applying for employment positions I thought I was underqualified for and made an entire new community of friends.

What do you plan on doing when you finish your degree?

I’ve been offered a graduate position with a law firm I clerked with over summer in Wellington, Kahui Legal. This firm specialises in iwi settlement negotiations, litigation, commercial law, public law and resource management. I look forward to starting my legal career with such a strong, well-led firm.