A legacy honoured with Moana Schwalger Memorial Pasifika Student Scholarship

03 April 2013
Moana Tipi
Moana Schwalger

Law firm Meredith Connell together with the Pacific Lawyers’ Association have established The Moana Schwalger Memorial Pasifika Student Scholarship in memory of Auckland Law School alumna, the late Moana Schwalger, a highly regarded Pasifika lawyer, member of the Executive of the Pacific Lawyers’ Association and colleague and friend of the partners and staff at Meredith Connell.

On 16th July 2012 Moana lost her 18 month battle with cancer at the age of 35.

“Moana was an extraordinarily gifted and beautiful person in every sense of the words. She was a Member of the Executive for the Pacific Lawyer’s Association, received the Auckland City Council Queen Elizabeth Scholarship and Inland Revenue Pacific Island Scholarship, alongside being the youngest Samoan to attain two degrees in the shortest timeframe. We hope to support talented young Pacific law students to reflect the qualities so plainly evident in Moana,” says Simon Moore, QC, Crown Solicitor at Meredith Connell.

Moana started her conjoint LLB/ BCom at The University of Auckland in 1996, graduating in 2000. In many ways she was an example for all Pasifika lawyers to follow. Building on her experience as a solicitor for the Inland Revenue Department, she went on to be one of the first Samoan women to gain a position as a Crown Prosecutor with Meredith Connell. Over a ten year period she took major cases in both the District and High Court, as well as appearances in the Court of Appeal. She went on to oversee indictable taxation prosecutions for the Crown.

She was the first Pacific Islander to be appointed a Senior Crown Prosecutor by the Solicitor General and to become an Associate at Meredith Connell. She was a member of the Executive for the Pacific Lawyers Association (PLA) from 2010 to 2012. Her dedication was such that she remained involved and engaged even when going through her medical treatment. She was also, among other community activities, a volunteer at her local Women’s Refuge and the Grey Lynn Community Law Centre.

“Moana was ferociously intelligent, honest and hardworking. It showed in her court work, and the judges knew they could have confidence in anything Moana put before them. To have the trust and respect of the judiciary is no small thing for a lawyer and Moana had it in abundance. She was extremely well regarded. We all know that the profession has lost a great lawyer and a future leader,” says Nunu Tipi, Moana’s sister-in-law.

Moana was a devoted wife to Fa’amalua, and a loving mother to three beautiful children, Benedict (7 yrs) Grace Ioana (5 yrs) and Fa’amalua Junior (21 months).

The $10,000 Scholarship is intended to encourage postgraduate study by Pasifika students at the Auckland Law School. Recipients of the Moana Schwalger Memorial Pasifika Student Scholarship may be offered work experience with Meredith Connell.

Thanks to Nunu Tipi, sister-in-law to Moana Schwalger, for her contribution to this article.