New Zealand Law Society - Triplets mum's Privy Council pinnacle a draw

Triplets mum's Privy Council pinnacle a draw

Triplets mum's Privy Council pinnacle a draw
Rebecca Edwards

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By Jock Anderson

Rebecca Anne (Rebecca) Edwards
Entry to law
Graduated BA/LLB (Hons) Auckland University 1993, LLM Virginia University 1995. Admitted February 1994. 
Barrister in Bankside Chambers, Auckland. 
Speciality area
Civil commercial litigation, focusing on contracts and commercial disputes.

Finding herself expecting genetically identical triplets came as a complete shock and surprise to barrister Rebecca Edwards – the head girl who married the head boy.

“You could say that’s a quirky aspect of my background.

“It came as something of a surprise. I was at Russell McVeagh at the time and was off work for six months but managed to do one day a week.

“It was full on at home with three baby boys, juggling child care and there was always someone sick. There’s always someone sick… Yes, something of a challenge…”

Fortunately Rebecca, a former New Zealand women’s water polo representative, and her Tongan descended husband Andrew Tu’inukuafe, a director of Creative Spaces architectural firm, had flexible jobs and could operate as a team around their new family.

Rebecca rapidly became bored and frustrated with not enough work to do and gradually took on more work from home as the boys grew.

“I sold it to Russell McVeagh to see the boys as clients – highly demanding clients, who were always hungry.

“Sometimes on a court conference call I would hide in a cupboard to shut out the noise as the boys screamed around the house trying to murder one another.

“It keeps you grounded but I would not have switched it for anything else.”

The teenage triplets are now pushing 15, playing rugby and basketball at school.

Rebecca says it’s too early to know if any of her sons are interested in law but they are all keen on English and the arts and have not lost their appetites.

Describing herself as an outdoorsy girl, she played in the world water polo championships in Perth, Australia, in 1991, holding world champions Holland to a draw.

She says women’s water polo is not as bloody as legendary clashes between Russian and American men’s teams, “but it’s tough and a pretty dirty game under water…”

She played at schoolgirl level in Wellington and progressed from there until giving up national competition when she started work in 1993. She continued to coach and was on the board of Waterpolo New Zealand for a couple of years.

“Our holidays are active. We did Milford Track for the third time this year and with three strapping teenagers to carry everything it’s not too hard.

 “We’ve cycled the Central Otago rail trail, doing the Hauraki trail this Christmas and planning to do the Wanganui trail next year.”

Her most memorable holiday was at the famous Ice Hotel in Sweden’s Lapland region – room temperature minus 10.

She joined Bankside Chambers in 2007.

As a member of the Cook Islands bar, Rebecca has appeared in the High Court and Court of Appeal a number of times in that jurisdiction.

The pinnacle of her legal career to date was appearing in two Cook Island land dispute cases before the Privy Council in 2012.

Both cases concerned historic orders around land and land disputes from 1905, which Rebecca says involved a myriad of legal notions and aspects including access to justice, historic interest and the Cook Islands view of things.

“Land cases are always challenging and time is important. Sometimes there is a festering sore that has been there for many years and won’t go away.

“There are constant disputes over land orders, with people going back into history to unpick them.

“At the Privy Council I won one and lost one… The experience was amazing.”

She says her Cook Islands practice is “incredibly varied” and she gets up there at least twice a year, where her instructing solicitor Tim Arnold is, among other things, a steam engine enthusiast.

A role she can’t talk about – but a matter which generated much media coverage when it blew up – was adjudicating disputes between Auckland secondary schools over the controversial transfer of rugby players between schools.

She acknowledges that a lot of the matters she handles are settled out of court and that in her field of civil commercial litigation fewer cases are reaching court.

“You have to consider the impact this has on developing law without a strong body of judgments coming through.” 

Jock Anderson has been writing and commenting on New Zealand lawyers and New Zealand's courts for several decades. He also writes the weekly Caseload column for the New Zealand Herald. Contact Jock at

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