Tongan identical triplets Max, Cale and Jackson Tu’inukuafe each graduated with a law degree from Victoria University this week.
Their choice to study law follows in the footsteps of their mother, High Court Judge Rebecca Edwards.
The brothers are of Tongan heritage with their paternal grandfather Edgar, hailing from Pahu, Kolofo’ou, Nuku’alofa and their Grandma, Atomi, is from Hunga, Vava’u.
Originally from Auckland’s North Shore they are former students of Westlake Boys High School who all earned university scholarships to study Law when they graduated from school in December 2017.
They began their studies at Victoria University in 2018 and have all graduated with double degrees. In addition to their LLBs, Max completed a Bachelor of Commerce in Finance while Cale completed a Bachelor of Arts in Film and Jackson with a BA in Development studies.
They share with the New Zealand Herald about what it has been like growing up as triplets and studying the same degree at university.
The youngest, Jackson says, “We are all extremely competitive with each other in everything that we do – everything. Studying law alongside each other was no exception.”
Eldest brother Cale – born a minute before Max – said: “Even if we didn’t study together, we would genuinely always end up being a couple of marks of each other.”
In their first year at university, during their first lecture, the triplets remember how the class was told it was likely that the person sitting next to them would not graduate from Law.
“We were all sitting next to each other that day,” Jackson said.
Although they studied law together, the brothers also branched out on their own at university; by studying different subjects towards second degrees and they also lived in separate halls on campus.
The brothers also shared with Tagata Pasefika their gratitude towards members of their family and community who have been part of their journey thus far.
Cale says, “We are very lucky to be in this position – it feels like an achievement shared by the community rather than just us. It’s been a great journey with my brothers, and immensely grateful to everyone who has formed part of it. Excited for more to come.”
“Without all the support from our family and the University we would not have graduated. Proud to be celebrating with my two greatest competitors but also two best friends,” Max adds.
Reflecting on their time at university, Jackson says graduation has been due to the hard work put in, not just by themselves, but also their family.
“Hopefully, more of the younger Pasifika generation will also be inspired to pursue a tertiary education.”
The Tu’inukuafe brothers are photographed on graduation day with Luamanuvao Dame Winifred Laban, former New Zealand Member of Parliament and Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Pasefika) at Te Herenga Waka, Victoria University of Wellington.