HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 601: 01 February 2012

Maria Tanner spends 5 minutes with ... Miriama Eliu
Far be it from me to cross someone who actually enjoys a good argument, although I have been known to go there, in the past, but for recent graduate Miriama Eliu that’s one person that I don’t want to meet down a dark alley, let alone a court of justice, however sit down and shot it with her for five minutes, gladly.
For the past four years Eliu has been hard away studying Environmental law in the chilly depths of Dunedin at Otago University and although Eliu puts on a great veneer I bet underneath her forward debatable demeanor there is actually a soft spoken passionate lawyer amongst our midst. Although she was already enrolled and in the early stages of studying property law it would turn out to be an influential conversation with the former Cook Islands Prime Minister Sir Terepai Maoate, in the departure lounge of the Auckland International Airport that would see her change courses. “My flight was delayed,” explains Eliu to me, “and it turns out Sir Terepai Maoate and I was on the same flight … we got to talking and he asked me Miriama have you ever thought about environmental law? And for some reason it just stuck.”
While Eliu credits Maoate for planting the idea deep in her mind, she definitely came up against plenty of trials throughout the duration of her studies, “it was soo cold,” Eliu describes of the shock that came when she realized that the Dunedin summer was actually something closer to freezing, “people were walking around in shorts and singlet’s, and there I was with my thermals underneath my jacket,” she laughs. Being a great conversationalist and simplifying almost everything she touches, having to deal with extreme climate changes were the least of Eliu’s worries, “I couldn’t just use everyday language I had to broaden my vocab, and fast,” explains Miriama after an attempt at writing her first paper, which quickly turned into a heated discussion between her and her then lecturer about the whether she had indeed answered the question or not. It’s still a bit of a debatable topic. Adopting to the scarifies student lifestyle was another giant hurdle for the aspiring lawyer, living on a budgeted student allowance and racking up a sizable student loan Eliu explains that at one point her and her five other student flat mates lived on Weetbix and noodles alone, for a month, “we learnt pretty fast to budget our finances so that didn’t happen again too soon,” Eliu laughs.
However Miriama’s four years of solid studying and sacrifice weren’t in vain, in late 2011 Eliu graduated from Otago with a degree in Environmental Law, making her part of an elite few who work within the field of environmental law for the Cook Islands and says that it was her multitudes of friends and helpful tutors that assisted her during the course of her studies. Although the days of living on $20 student allowances are over for Eliu, “you know what,” she says to me, “I’m going to miss it.” And I knew she had soft side. -Maria Tanner

Herald Issue 554 09 March
- Norm exposes Trio of Doom
- Briefs from PM’s media conference Tuesday
- Tourism Industry ponders $5 million draft strategy
- Norman George resigns from Cook Islands Party
- Letter of Resignation from CIP
- Norman selfish says Prime Minister

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