New Zealand Law Society - Criminal lawyer turned children’s author

Criminal lawyer turned children’s author

Criminal lawyer turned children’s author
Criminal lawyer turned children's author Reina Vaai

Criminal lawyer Reina Vaai has just released a series of books to inspire and encourage children in South Auckland and the Pacific when it comes to thinking about careers.

The Doctor, The Baker and The Detective follow on from her first children’s book, The Inventor which was released in 2018.

“I’ve seen what happens when children don’t have positive

Young lady sitting on chair with children's books behind her
Criminal lawyer Reina Vaai

role models in their lives, when children aren’t encouraged to aim high and when they don’t have people that believe in them”, says Reina.

“I usually meet them as adults, many years later, as defendants in the criminal justice system. Crime is linked to so many different issues and when I sit across from people in prison or in Court, I always wonder whether we can actually target a lot of these issues much earlier in people’s lives.”

The books focus on diverse children and the different careers that they hope to pursue. Each book tackles a social issue such as the lack of female representation in the sectors of Science, Engineering, Technology and Maths, the link between poverty and poor health outcomes and the importance of sharing.

“I was told that some of the themes in my books are a bit too dark or a bit too serious. What a privilege it must be, to turn away from the very real experiences that children in our community are actually going through.”

Having grown up in South Auckland Reina knows from first-hand experience the challenges that young Pacific children face. She was inspired to study law at the University of Auckland because she wanted to advocate for people in her community.

Following graduation, she worked for a private criminal firm and later moved to the Public Defence Service in Manukau advocating for legal aid clients. In 2015 she started her blog ‘Truths She Wrote’ which is dedicated to highlighting the powerful and wall-breaking women of the Pacific diaspora and her blog lead to her career as a freelance journalist working for platforms such as Tagata Pasifika, Stuff and The Spinoff.

You can find out more about her series at

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