Te Hunga Rōia o Aotearoa’s first tauira events of the year took place on Monday 11 March and Tuesday 12 March 2019.

The events took place at Victoria, University of Wellington and the University of Auckland and were designed to raise the profile of judges clerking, research counsel and registrar positions at courts and tribunals around the country.

Judges clerking is a position in which Māori graduates are especially underrepresented, but bring a valuable perspective and can make an important contribution. This type of work also makes a number of other, litigation-focused jobs much more accessible. If more Māori are able to obtain work judge’s clerks, the hope is that those downstream options will ultimately end up with better representation.

In Wellington, we were lucky enough to have Justice Joe Williams present to speak to the tauira. His Honour spoke about the unique insight clerks and registrars have into the judicial process, and why tauira Māori can make a valuable contribution to the work our courts do. He emphasised that this is an exciting time for tauira Māori to step up and seize these kinds of positions, given the trend towards increasing recognition of Māori concepts throughout the fabric of the law, and the value of diverse voices in contributing to its development.

The event was attended by approximately 30 students, who heard from a number of current and former clerks about their experiences. We’d like to thank Josie Te Rata (former Supreme Court clerk), Abby Hauraki (Deputy Registrar at the Waitangi Tribunal), Rahera Douglas (clerk at the Māori Land Court), and Julia Spelman (former clerk to the Chief District Court Judge) for sharing their whakaaro around being a judge’s clerk, the value Māori clerks can bring, how to work towards these positions and how to frame/prepare applications.

In Auckland, four High Court Judges (Justices Whata, Edwards, Palmer and Powell) and one Associate Judge of the High Court (Associate Judge Andrew) were present to show their support for tauira Māori considering applying for positions as clerks and registrars. The 20 students in attendance heard from Sacha Norrie (former clerk to the Chief Youth Court Judge), Wiremu Rikihana (former Deputy Registrar at the Waitangi Tribunal) and Rachael Jones (former High Court clerk) about their experiences and advice they have for tauira considering applying for these positions.

The event was organised by David Green and Yasmin Olsen and sponsored by Te Hunga Rōia Māori. We also thank Meredith Connell (who assisted in providing kai) and Kayes Fletcher Walker for their support for this kaupapa, and Dr Carywn Jones (VUW) and Dr Claire Charters (AU) for attending and providing a point of contact going forward for students considering these positions.

Tauira are most welcome to email yasmin@kfw.co.nz if they have any questions or would like to be put in touch with any of the panelists.