The Law Foundation has awarded its Ethel Benjamin scholarships for outstanding women for 2018.
The Foundation's scholarships are awarded to women holding a law degree who have been accepted into a postgraduate (LLM) law course in either New Zealand or overseas.
This year Rez Gardi, Taylor Burgess and Kate Stone have been recognised for their remarkable work in their respective areas of legal study and have received the award to support them in their overseas postgraduate studies at Ivy League schools in America.
Interviewed for an article published on Te Pōkai Tara (the Universities) New Zealand website about their postgraduate study and goals they discussed their goals for their LLM studies.
Rez Gardi was born in a refugee camp in Pakistan to Kurdish activist parents. She says her life experiences have shaped her worldview, leading to her determination to make a difference.
"The circumstances I was born into have shaped my interest in peace, security, and humanitarian action," she says.
Studying at University of Auckland, gaining a BA (double majoring in International Relations/Political Studies and Criminology) and a Bachelor of Laws (Hons), Rez currently works as a legal officer with the Human Rights Commission.
"By pursuing a Master of Laws focusing on the interface between refugee law and human rights, I will be better equipped to play a part in making a difference as an advocate in this global crisis, as well as sharing my learnings with others to ensure that we all do our part," she says.
Rez will be studying an LLM at Harvard University.
Taylor Burgess graduated from the University of Auckland with a BA (Philosophy) and a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) where she graduated top of her class. She currently works as an Assistant Crown Counsel in the Crown Law Office, acting for the Ministry of Health and Oranga Tamariki on public, administrative and constitutional law matters.
Pursuing her interest in both human rights and public health law in her LLM studies at Yale University, Taylor plans to write a research paper examining how the New Zealand Courts can strike balance between government powers and individual rights in the modern public health environment.
"It is the perfect time to examine the Courts' role in striking this balance and to develop a robust Bill of Rights framework for the future scrutiny of public health decision-making in New Zealand," says Taylor.
Kate Stone graduated with a BA (Hons) in political science, before completing her LLB at Victoria University of Wellington, then an LLM (Hons) specialising in human rights law, from Auckland University.
Kate currently works as a Crown Counsel for the constitutional and human rights and Treaty of Waitangi and Māori legal issues teams in the Crown Law office. She intends to study law and social change, focusing on criminal justice system reform at Columbia University.
"I intend to study the conditions necessary to support civil society to organise and mobilise in pursuit of social change and the effective use of legal tools in this area," she says.