From New Zealand to Australia: A snapshot of 2015-2018

In the Oceania region, today is the final day of 2018. Today also marks 3 years, 9 months and 5 days since I had relocated from New Zealand to Australia for work. Upon reflecting on my time here in Australia from the period of 2015 to 2018, a couple points that I would like to share is that when you are pursuing your goals or your dream career or simply a life that will bring joy for you and your loved ones, is firstly to be grateful for the opportunities and experiences that may come your way, no matter how big or small they might be, and secondly to take note of those who have helped you along the way.

In October 2014, I had graduated from The University of Auckland with a PhD in Education. The following year, I received an initial job offer from Western Sydney University which I had accepted. This meant that I had to relocate from New Zealand to Australia at the beginning of that year. The role that I took on enabled me to play a small part in supporting the educational aspirations of Pasifika students in Sydney’s western region. The second job offer from Western Sydney University that I had accepted was in 2016 and it led me to take on roles as a Unit Coordinator, Lecturer and Tutor for the Bachelor of Education degree (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rural education program) and I also taught in the Master of Teaching degree. In 2017, I received a third job offer but this time it came from Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia. I took on a Lecturer position under an ongoing contract which has enabled me to strengthen my skills and continue to build in the area of research, teaching, service and leadership. A year and a half on at Swinburne, I am thoroughly enjoying all the responsibilities that I have received. 

While it may seem like job offers had consistently come through for me from the description above, that actually wasn’t the case. You see, while I was working as a researcher and completing my PhD, I had applied for several jobs in New Zealand between 2013-2014. For the times that I was short-listed for job interviews, it seemed as though that I was always up against the more experienced and well published academics, so I never landed an academic job in New Zealand after I had graduated with my PhD from The University of Auckland in October 2014. However, having been born and raised in the Christian faith, I continued to pray and I remained hopeful that God would one day open the right doors for me and in the following year, He did. Little did I or anyone else know or expect, the right doors would open for me here in Australia. The opportunities and the experiences that I have gained following the acceptance of each job offer here in Australia, have not only actioned and further developed my skills and knowledge within the field of academia; but these opportunities and experiences have also enabled me to help and support my parents, Mr and Mrs Lauloe and Sinai Pale, and family in more ways than one which has made everything all the more worthwhile. I am glad that I never gave up. 

It has always been in my heart to give back to my parents and to honour them for their sacrifices and hard work over the years. They had emigrated from the Kingdom of Tonga to New Zealand in the 1970’s with the hope of starting a family and finding opportunities that were different. Through their actions, I’ve observed their work ethic and their determination to provide for our little family as well as their own families back in the Kingdom of Tonga as well as within New Zealand. We didn’t have much growing up but I wasn’t aware of that as a child because my parents had ensured that my sister and I were content with what we did have, and we were. My parents have been my driving force this entire time hence the determination and perseverance over the years. During the most challenging of times, I would often think back to what my parents went through and it would always place things into perspective for me. My current time and place may be different to that of my parents, but the amount of effort and hard work poured into my day to day was very similar to the experiences of my parents.

One of my highlights this year was seeing my Father’s dream become a reality. His 1980’s dream was to build a house as our second family home on the land that he and my Mother owns in New Zealand. Indeed, the completion of the build of our second family home was in March of this year. However, I was only able to fly back home to New Zealand in June of this year once the semester break was underway and only then our family’s house warming took place. The two houses are not grand or extravagant, they are both small in size and they are nestled comfortably, one in front of the other, on my parents small property. However, the fulfilment of my Father’s 1980’s dream is what has made this occasion all more special for me. Seeing firsthand how happy my parents were on the day of the house warming of our second family home was my most proudest moment and there was no other feeling quite like that. While there is nothing that I can do to repay my parents for all that they have done for my sister and I, I am glad that I could help make this dream come true for my Father. My parents’ excitement and happiness, made all the hard yards all the more worthwhile. Praise God for His faithfulness.

Last month, my Father flew over to Melbourne, Australia for a visit and I was delighted to show him around. I think one of the most heart-warming moments that I had with my Father while he was here in Melbourne was the day that I took him into my workplace, Swinburne University of Technology. I was so proud to introduce him to my colleagues who were in the office at that time. I showed him around the university campus and I took photos of him to share with our family in New Zealand. Below is a photo of my Father sitting at my office desk at Swinburne University of Technology.

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To be able to show my Father what his hard work and sacrifices, as well as my Mother’s, have led me to achieve was an absolute honour and a blessing for me. I am grateful and happy that he got to see firsthand the fruits of their labour of love, their answered prayers and God’s faithfulness in our lives. I am grateful for all my experiences during my time here in Australia and the outcomes that my family have managed to achieve together. I am also thankful for my parents for encouraging me to be independent and for trusting that God’s protection and guidance will always be upon me wherever He may lead me. 

For the younger generation who may be reading this, set your goals, work towards them and put yourself forward for the job that you desire. You will need to persevere and remain determined even when things may seem like it’s not working out. Create a work-life balance. Schedule in time for self-care. Pray and meditate. Nurture your mind, spirit and well-being and nourish your body and physical health. If you’re too busy being busy, then you’re not investing time to look after yourself and those that you care about. If you stumble and fall, reflect and learn from your lessons and then get back up and try again. Never, never, never give up!

Success (however you may define it) does not come easy and it sure does not come without its doubters, detractors, the negative opinion of others and those who like to paint false narratives about you. However, you must remember that you own your narrative. You must use your voice. Be a trailblazer and know that you do not need to prove yourself to anyone. Keep striving forth, learn from the lessons, be open to new experiences and never forget those who have helped you along the way.

In saying the above, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank Dr. Meaola Amituanai-Toloa (as shown in the photo below) for her ongoing leadership and support in my academic journey over the past 12 years. She was my main PhD supervisor at The University of Auckland and she continues to mentor me in my academic journey even up this very day.

If you are reading this post Dr. Meaola Amituanai-Toloa, thank you for believing in me and for making a world of difference not only in my life but also the lives of my family members. Thank you for your positive influence, your impactful leadership and your professional guidance. Thank you for your Samoan real talk during the times I took on too much and during times when my hope began to wane. Thank you for your sense of humour that had me laughing through the tough times. Thank you for your inspiration, advice and support over the years which have helped to shape me as an academic. Look at the significant difference your life has made in mine.  I hope that I have done you proud and I hope that you know how much I truly appreciate you. You are a woman of strength, dedication and faith. On behalf of my little family, I thank God for your presence in my life. God bless, fa’afetai tele lava and alofa tele atu xox 

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For those who continue to read my blog posts, thank you for joining me on my journey and for your support over the years. Best wishes for the new year ahead!

Malo ‘aupito (thank you),

Dr. Maryanne Pale

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