Campbell Gin describes himself as a grinder.
He might not have had the best grades, but he never gives up.
The Kaikohe man's perseverance paid off when he, his sister and his niece graduated in front of five other siblings and about 20 of his 32 nieces and nephews.
He dedicated his graduation to his brother Wiremu - a Kaikohe barber who died in a car crash near Tauranga in February.
"I got a bit emotional. I felt my brother and my dad there with me. My brother he was originally part of the plan, he was going to take the week off and come and we were going to chill," he said.
Mr Gin is the youngest of eight children and grew up in the Far North living in Hokianga, Whirinaki, Rawene and Kaikohe.
He was raised by his father and siblings after his mother Rangimarie died when he was 1. In 2012 his father William died following a heart attack.
"One of the advantages of being a tight-knit family is that even though our parents aren't around, we're all very close," he said.
Mr Gin graduated with a bachelor of laws and bachelor of arts, majoring in Chinese, from the University of Waikato.
The 30-year-old is the first in his family to explore his Chinese heritage which comes from his father's side.
Growing up, the only connection he had to his Chinese heritage was through food but he gained exposure to the language after teaching several Chinese people while on a two-year Mormon church mission in Melbourne in 2006.
"Our mission president he brought me into the Chinese programme and I was only meant to be there for a short time but I ended up spending most of my time with these other elders who could speak Chinese. I learnt from the people and it inspired me to want to learn more."
In 2011 he moved to a city in northeast China called Songyuan where he taught English for 18 months. He then moved back to New Zealand to study law.
Mr Gin had not intended to study for the arts degree but after taking Chinese elective papers he was told he only needed to take a few more papers to gain that degree so he decided to pursue it. He credits his success to his family support and upbringing.
"My dad, he told me to not give up. My grades aren't stellar and I'm not the top of the class unfortunately, but I'm a grinder and 100 per cent I can attribute that to growing up in Kaikohe."
Mr Gin is working part-time at Jefferies Law and balancing this with his studies as he begins a master of business management.