After 10 years working in Japan, and a brush with employment law in Sydney, hip hop vinyl lover Nicholas Eketone-TeKanawa decided that, at 35, law was worth a go.
“I’m a bit of a nomad,” says Nicholas, who affiliates to King Country iwi Ngati Maniopoto, and who recently joined Auckland firm Bell Associates as an associate.
The son of a Waikato builder – who himself came from a family of 17, plus an 18th adopted child – Nicholas was regularly on the move with his parents.
- Nicholas Rewi (Nicholas) Eketone-TeKanawa
- Entry to law
- Graduated BA (Japanese), LLB from Otago University in 2009. Admitted in 2009.
- Associate at Bell Associates, Auckland.
- Speciality area
- Employment, relationship property, foreign investment and immigration.
“In the late 1970s Dad took us to Australia for work. He worked in large construction projects, pipelines, military bases, everywhere there was work.
“The family settled in Newcastle, then moved to Sydney. I went to primary and high school in Australia. Then we had two years in the UK with Dad’s work when I was 12 to 14.
“Life was an adventure. We returned to Sydney and after school I worked briefly there before going to Japan.
“I had contact with Japanese people through school, and at university. I had a friend whose friend lived and worked in Japan, so I took off there at 22 to a job working in a bar, nothing nefarious. My motivation was adventure.
“I met some people in northern Hokkaido, where it is very cold. The city was about the same size as Dunedin. I got a job at the English school there.”
Nicholas worked at the school for four years, met his wife Kazuha, a fellow teacher at the same school, and got married. The couple have three children – sons Dallas (6) and Phoenix (4) and daughter Jasmine (2).
“I had only basic Japanese language. But from my perspective it was better to be paid to learn the language than go to university and pay to learn it.”
During his decade in Japan, Nicholas started his own business teaching English, doing translations and editing documents, particularly journal articles for doctors and lecturers attached to the local hospital and university.
“In 2002 I wanted to do a bit more so we moved back to Sydney for a couple of years to see if we wanted to live there. But the city had changed. So we moved to Dunedin, where my mother’s family are from and I started law at 35.
“When I was a non-lawyer in Sydney I had an employment issue where I needed to speak to a lawyer but also got interested in employment law at that time.
“Law is in the family. My grandfather, Richard Boyd Hamill, who died in 1956, was a lawyer in Dunedin. He had two sons and a daughter – my mother. One son became a lawyer, and my uncle’s two sons also got LLBs from Otago. I worked for one of them when I graduated.”
Another uncle is an artist in Dunedin.
After a few years in Dunedin “we found the southerlies a bit much” and the family moved to Auckland in 2012.
“With work and three children I am kept busy. I enjoy a lot of outdoor activity - hiking, tramping, especially in Otago, and the gym. I also enjoy boxing, not in the ring but I have a keen interest in boxing.
“I have done small bore rifle shooting and would like to get back into that. It is very relaxing, blocking out everything except the little black dot in the middle of the target.
“In Japan I attended a Buddhist temple for two years and they taught me how to practice the Zen meditation – which provides a connection with shooting.”
Nicholas has formed links with the Japanese community in New Zealand, has Japanese clients, and is a former member of the Japan New Zealand Business Association. “But these days I am very busy. And I need to be available for our young children.
“I loved reading Wilbur Smith when younger. Michael Logan’s Apocalpyse Cow is fascinating. I liked Scott Stambach’s The Invisible life of Ivan Isaenko and Jonas Jonasson’s Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out A Window And Disappeared.
“We struggle to find anything to watch on TV so we rent or buy a dvd series. I liked The Bridge, The Killing, The Wire.
“We have a minivan, and I drive a 2.4l Toyota Blade - I’m looking at getting a V6 version.
“We used to have three cats but we brought only one of them to Auckland – my wife’s present – but he disappeared. We’ll get another one at some stage.
“I would want dinner guests to be interesting – Graham Norton and Stephen Fry - both very funny and very sharp.
“We would serve hand-rolled Temaki Sushi. All the ingredients are on the table and you create what you like. With pickled vegetables and fish. And cold or hot hakkai san saki. It’s like water from a pure spring but sometimes it creeps up on you.”
Snow and hot saki
“We haven’t had much time for holidaying since returning to Auckland but we go to a motel in Rotorua that has an outside hot spring. There is a men’s hour and a women’s hour and you don’t wear anything. Just soak yourself.
“I would like to go back to Hokkaido in winter when it is snowing and visit some of their fantastic springs. Snow and hot saki. In hot springs hotels.
“I’m into black music. I was aged 12 to 14 in the UK when hip hop was exploding. I have a massive hip hop collection, probably thousands of records and cds. And I prefer vinyl.
“In Sydney I worked at 2SER community radio station with other students and played hip hop and R&B. My favourites are Missy Elliott and Afrika Bambaataa – he is a pioneer in the hip hop world.
“Malcolm McLaren [English impresario and ex-manager of the Sex Pistols] was introduced to Bambaataa and saw the potential for hip hop. Soon after McLaren released his hit Buffalo Gals.
“I have a strong interest in the history of hip hop and the art work and graffiti. I don’t play or sing but my eldest son is six and he has keen interest in guitar so we are looking at starting acoustic lessons soon.
“So if I wasn’t a lawyer I would probably be an audio engineer in a studio – working all the knobs and controls.”