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First Cook Islander to complete law degree in-country

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Noeline Browne is the first Cook Islands student to complete USP LLB programme through on-line courses undertaken fully in-country

Noeline Browne is the first Cook Islands student to complete The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Bachelor of Laws Degree through on-line courses undertaken fully in-country at the Cook Islands Campus.

Reflecting on her journey, Noeline said law studies have been both fascinating and challenging.

Her reasons for studying law is that “it is an intellectual pursuit of the law and jurisprudence and on the practical level, my knowledge of the law is helpful in solving legal issues that my family, and tribal clans have to deal with in negotiations in relation to our lands”.

Noeline has three sons who live in Sydney, but she returned to live in her ancestral homeland or Ipukarea in 2002 to assist her mother with tribal and family matters.

Her first stint as a varsity student was at Auckland University where she studied Anthropology and English.

In 2005, she took up management studies which were fascinating, but as recommended by the then USP Cook Islands Campus Director Rod Dixon, Noeline became one of the first cohort of students in the Cook Islands who enrolled for the online law course at the undergraduate degree level.

“My continuing contribution to the development of Cook Islands can be found in my elective subjects, which is customary law (for the public to know that the Cook Islands Act and Constitution specifically recognizes custom in land matters & tribal titles) and International Environment Law & Regional Environment Law,” Noeline explained.

With regard to the Law of the Sea, she said the Cook Islands is an archipelagic country and it is important to realise what the rights and obligations are in terms of international law under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and associated conventions.

Noeline said she has many goals in life, one of which is the pursuit of happiness for her family; using her knowledge of law to help her family and tribe to work towards the welfare of the people of the Cook Islands.

She added that despite minor hiccups like technical glitches at the Cook Islands Campus, Noeline thanked and acknowledged the University and its staff for the support and encouragement in seeing her through her studies.

This news item was published on 14 Jun 2016 02:41:19 pm. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email

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