Ma ngā huruhuru ka rere te manu – With all its feathers a bird can soar

On Wednesday 11 April, Te Hunga Rōia Māori o Aotearoa, the New Zealand Māori Law Society (Hunga Rōia), gathered at Parliament to launch the Ngā Wāhine Rōia Māori mentoring programme. The initiative is designed to support the growth and career development of Māori women members of Hunga Rōia. The programme aims to prepare and tautoko (support) lawyers and senior law students for success in the workforce, establish networks for mentees with senior practitioners and strengthen networks between Hunga Rōia members.

The kaupapa of the evening was based on the whakatauki ma ngā huruhuru ka rere te manu – With all its feathers a bird can soar. This whakatauki speaks of the importance of support, tuakana-teina relationships and working as a collective to achieve a goal.

The road to setting up the programme has not been easy. “For the past 4-5 years, a key group of amazing wāhine have worked tirelessly gathering data and listening to the wāhine in our hunga about what support they need to stay and progress in the profession,” says Ophir Cassidy, Tumuaki wahine of Hunga Rōia. “Based on the tuakana-teina relationship model, the programme pairs teina (junior) with tuakana (senior) members and aims to equip participants with tools for career development. We are thrilled to be at the stage where we can launch the programme.”

Speakers for the evening included Kiritapu Allan MP, Judge Sarah Reeves of the Māori Land Court and Waitangi Tribunal, Bernadette Arapere of the Crown Law Office and Marcia Murray of the Ministry for the Environment.

The programme has  over 68 wahine signed up so far (and more applications rolling in daily) from all over Aotearoa, from Northland to Dunedin. “Based on the information shared in the application forms, mentors have been matched with mentees with similar values and career aspirations,” said Marcia Murray, Te Hunga Rōia’s Wellington representative. “Given the vast spread of mentors and mentees across the country, with the help of technology, they are able to stay connected. We encourage pairs to have at least four kanohi-ki-te-kanohi hui (face to face meetings), which can take place over skype/zoom, regular coffee catch ups or at other events during the year, such as the Te Hunga Rōia Māori kura reo Māori in July or the hui-a-tau (annual conference) in October.

Te Hunga Rōia Māori o Aotearoa is a national Māori body whose membership includes Māori members of the judiciary, members of parliament, legal practitioners, legal academics, public servants and law students. Te Hunga Rōia Māori o Aotearoa focuses on strengthening networks amongst its membership, making submissions on a range of policies and proposed legislation, ensuring representation of its membership on various legal committees and holding an annual national hui.