New Zealand Law Society - Message from our President, Tiana Epati

Message from our President, Tiana Epati

Message from our President, Tiana Epati

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This week, as Covid-19 once again disrupts the Courts and legal practices in Auckland, I want to acknowledge the impact this is having on the people of South Auckland.

Within hours of Auckland shifting to Alert Level 3, I was part of collaborative conversations with the Chief District Court Judge, court staff and the profession (including Crown and police prosecution) about the running of the courts in South Auckland.  We were able to agree a local solution approach for those courts given their proximity to the locations of interest to the latest cluster.  With fast teamwork the traffic through the front door of the Manukau court was reduced by almost 80 percent on Monday. This was further reduced to only priority proceedings on Tuesday.   

The Chief District Court Judge has acknowledged the profession for their efforts in helping the courts continue to deliver as safely as possible access to justice for the wider south Auckland communities. I want to re-iterate my thanks to the judiciary and court staff for the Herculaneum effort they put into finding a local solution for the South Auckland courts. 

The disruption wrought by the lockdowns is exhausting and impacts all of us. Even if they appear to be for short periods, the uncertainty of what is to come is destabilising. The New Zealand Law Society is here to support all lawyers in Aotearoa, and I would urge you to look at our mentoring and counselling services.

I can personally attest to the power of mentoring. Two years ago, I reached out to two new lawyers to talk to them about navigating the profession. A mentoring relationship followed, but one where I have largely been the mentee. In addition to learning a great deal from them, it has been an absolute privilege to watch Maria Sopoaga and Wilberforce Tupua grow into superstar leaders.

Both are leading lights in the NZLS Auckland Branch Young Lawyers Committee. Maria was named by NZ Lawyer as one of the Rising Stars of 2020. And Wilberforce was recently elected to the Auckland Branch of the New Zealand Law Society

The national mentoring programme is free and virtual. Our online platform, MentorLoop, matches mentors and mentees and is an ideal way to connect and support each other professionally regardless of alert-level disruption. Although primarily designed for those currently holding practising certificates, in these unusual times the Law Society is extending the programme to anyone who has been admitted but is not yet practising, and anyone who is between roles and therefore does not have a current practising certificate.

If you need additional help and support during this difficult time you can also access the Law Society’s counselling service. 

As we head towards the end of the week our thoughts and support continue to go out to the people of South Auckland. The families and communities who make up Southside have had to pivot hard, again. They deserve our respect and understanding.  

Kia kotahi te hoe o te waka – we need to continue to paddle as one.