The New Zealand Law Society | Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa is delighted to welcome Te Hunga Rōia Māori o Aotearoa and the Pacific Lawyers Association as permanent members of our Council.
At a meeting in Wellington on Thursday 15 October the Law Society’s Constitution was amended by Council members to provide for full membership, allowing both organisations the right to vote on Council decisions and for the office of President of the Law Society.
"This is a historic moment for the legal profession," says President of the New Zealand Law Society, Tiana Epati.
"For some time, we have talked about the goal of improving the representation and balance of both the Law Society and the legal profession. That can only be done through partnership which requires an equal seat at the table. By giving established organisations, who have long held the mandate for Māori and Pacific lawyers, the right to independently vote we have taken a significant step forward."
Te Hunga Rōia Māori o Aotearoa was formally established in 1988 and held its first hui at Tunohopu Marae in Rotorua. Members span the legal profession, judiciary, parliament and academia.
"Our Kaupapa / Vision for Te Hunga Rōia is expressed as being ‘Mā te Ture, Mō te Iwi’- ‘By the Law, For the People’", says Tumuaki Wahine Jamie-Lee Tuuta.
"All of us have a mutual desire to effect change through the law within and for Māori. And we are ultimately responsible to our people.
"By being a full member at the top table we will ensure Māori voices are heard while also maintaining our independence, which we know is of the utmost importance to our members."
The Pacific Lawyers Association was established in 2001 and is the recognised voice of Pacific people and Pacific lawyers in the legal profession.
"Our relationship with the Law Society has continued to strengthen over the years, particularly since the election of Tiana Epati as President," says the Association's President Tania Sharkey.
"Our position will be enhanced by the ability to formally participate in the decisions made by the Council, which is significant given they affect the legal profession as a whole.
"We’re also pleased that we will have a voice when it comes to the nomination and election of the President of the Law Society. The door needs to remain open for all kinds of leadership of the legal profession and there is still much work to be done to reflect the community we serve in Aotearoa."
The motion was formally put to Council by the President of the New Zealand Law Society, Tiana Epati. It was led by the Vice-President for Auckland, Jacque Lethbridge, in Ms Epati’s absence with the full support of the Board.