Sauniuni Seleni

Sauniuni Seleni

Commercial Senior Associate, BNZ
Bachelor of Laws

Joining BNZ as a as a commercial senior associate opened his eyes to the role banks play in the economy, says Sauniuni Seleni (Sauni) who completed a Bachelor of Laws.

“I’m responsible for ensuring that every transaction we have with the bank’s commercial clients is within the parameters of New Zealand laws and other regulations. My role requires me to be an allrounder because I mainly deal with company directors, lawyers, CEOs and CFOs when they’re structuring business debts to expand their business; fund projects, bonds and guarantees; buy businesses, or set up their business debts with trusts.

“I’ve been working for BNZ since July 2023 and have to go through banking regulatory learning requirements. For me, that was an eye opener and made me realise how important the role banks play in our economy is. This role is something I never expected to get straight out of law school.”

In addition to his full-time role, Sauni has also recently completed his Professional Legal Studies course through the Institute of Professional Legal Studies, and is now preparing for being admitted to the bar to then be able to practise as a barrister or solicitor.

The right university environment
Sauni says AUT offered the right environment for him to study law, especially because students can also study law at the AUT South Campus in Manukau.

“Having the AUT campus in South Auckland benefits anyone who wants to study law, especially because the AUT Law School provides the same law classes at the South Campus as at the City Campus. AUT also has a very community and whānau-oriented approach to students and their learning journey. You can connect directly with your lecturers, journey together with other like-minded students and share knowledge with each other without being judged.

“As a Pacific person, I found that AUT provides a platform with a diverse and inclusive focus. That is very helpful to those marginalised students who are desperate to break negative historical cycles that affect them and their community. From a mature student point of view, AUT is welcoming to adult students who want to pursue a different area of profession. And that makes AUT my preferred choice of university to study law.”

One of the student experiences he particularly enjoyed was participating in the Shadow a Leader programme and spending a day with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner at the Human Rights Commission, Saunoamali’i Karanina Sumeo.

“I enjoyed observing how this part of the Human Rights Commission operates, the legal mandate they operate under, and the challenges they face while dealing with issues affecting everyday New Zealanders, especially in the employment sector. The EEO Commissioner operated in a way that placed the value and the success of her work on every person in her team, not individual egos. In my view, that is very important from a human rights standpoint.

“Without a doubt, the Shadow a Leader programme is a necessary part of student learning, and I highly recommend it to every student. As learners, we have certain individuals, either domestically or internationally, that inspired us to pursue a particular area of study. Resilience to making uncomfortable decisions is what makes a leader stand out from the crowd. That is what I learned from participating in Shadow a Leader.”

Advice for other students
Sauni – who graduated from AUT in 2023 – has some great advice for other students who are only at the start of their university journey.

“Never give up learning, and never think you know everything. Learn more and absorb as much knowledge as you can because there is no greater weapon than knowledge itself. The world will compensate you based on the worth of your brain, not the size of your muscles. Don’t chase money, but opportunities to utilise your intelligence because knowledge will attract you to the wealth that is unlimited.

“In the past, I was told by a number of employers in  New Zealand and Australia that I shouldn’t be talking about policy and laws when they treated me differently because I’m not a lawyer. I used their derogatory treatment as fuel and a light to direct me to the AUT Law School. The best gift God gives to our life is time – we should use it while we can, so we can learn and understand our full individual potential.”

Failure is part of learning, he adds.

“Don’t be afraid to try and fail, but never fail to try. Don’t dictate your decisions by mistakes of yesterday, or even negativity from others. Learn and use those lessons as fuels for your tomorrow.”