New Zealand Law Society - Dozens of lawyers vie for a seat in the Beehive as election race hots up

Dozens of lawyers vie for a seat in the Beehive as election race hots up

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Next month’s election will see a large number of people from the legal profession fighting for a place in the Beehive for a variety of colours and political persuasions.

At least 31 who have qualified have enrolled to fight the poll. There are, in total, 534 candidates for 16 registered political parties. See the full list of candidates.

They include former or current lawyers already part of Parliament, such as Christopher Finlayson (a QC), Amy Adams and Judith Collins on the Government bench, and Andrew Little, David Parker, Raymond Huo, Metiria Turei and Winston Peters on the Opposition side.

They are likely to be joined by others, but how many will, of course, depend on the result on September 23.

Among those are Chris Penk who is a strong favourite to be elected in John Key’s seat for National, and high-rising Greens star Golriz Ghahraman, who has soared into the top 10 in the last month due to the party’s internal problems.

Why do so many lawyers bid for parliament? The logic is fairly simply, as we explored in LawTalk 900 (4 November 2016): that here is someone with a blend of ideals who speaks the language of law.

“You do need some because we are making legislation and we understand better than those that aren’t legally trained how critical words are and the particular choice of words being used matters immeasurably,” Amy Adams told our reporter.

However, in the same issue, Metiria Turei felt some lawyers put their hand up as candidates because it gave them a status and gained them popularity.

The latest issue of LawTalk contains an Election Special, with most of the competing parties answering five justice-related questions.

Known current or former lawyers standing for Parliament on September 23:


Christopher Finlayson who was Attorney-General in the outgoing Parliament, is a Queen’s Counsel. He graduated from Victoria University with a BA in Latin and French, and a Masters in Law. Mr Finlayson began practising at Wellington firm Brandons where he became a partner then, from 1990-2002, a partner at Bell Gully. In 2003 he became a barrister sole. In the last parliament he was Attorney-General, Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and Associate Minister of Maori Development. He is standing in Rongotai and is eighth on National’s list.

Amy Adams, who was the Minister of Justice and Minister of Courts, is looking to again represent Selwyn. Educated at Canterbury University, Amy Adams was a partner with Mortlock McCormack Law in Christchurch, specialising in commercial and property law. She is a previous member of the Canterbury District Law Society's property law committee, the NZLS's Women's Consultative Group and the Institute of Directors prior to becoming MP for Selwyn in 2008.

Judith Collins was the Minister of Revenue and the MP for Papakura in Auckland. She specialised in employment, property, commercial, and tax law before entering Parliament in 2002. She was Chair of the Casino Control Authority and served as President of the Auckland District Law Society and Vice-President of the New Zealand Law Society.

Simon Bridges, who was the Transport Minister, is standing in Tauranga. He co-founded the Dunedin Community Law Centre, and later became a managing and litigation partner in Anderson Lloyd. Mr Bridges was a Senior Crown Prosecutor in the District and High Courts. He had been a prosecutor in Tauranga since 2001, working largely on jury trials.

Chris Bishop is a list MP who is hoping to take the Hutt South electorate from Labour. He holds a first class Honours degree in Law and a Bachelor of Arts from Victoria University of Wellington, and has been admitted to the bar as a barrister and solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand.

Sarah Dowie represents Invercargill. After graduating from Otago University and being admitted to the Bar in 1998, she practised commercial and environmental law.

Chris Penk is standing inHelensville. The submarine driver-turned property lawyer is almost a certainty to be elected, having been chosen for Sir John Key’s safe National seat. Mr Penk is based in Auckland at Ong and Penk Lawyers.

Harete Hipango will contest the Whanganui electorate, hoping to replace National MP Chester Burrows, who is stepping down at this election. Ms Hipango graduated from the University of Auckland with an LLB in 1991, and has worked extensively in general practice in family, mental health, youth justice, child welfare, criminal, Māori land and mediation. A party spokesperson says she let her practise certificate lapse about two months ago.

Paulo Garcia is contesting New Lynn in Auckland. Originally from the Philippines, Mr Garcia has lived in New Zealand for over a decade and has more than 20 years’ experience as a lawyer in both countries. He is a director at GarciaLaw (NZ) Ltd in Auckland. In 2012 was appointed an Honorary Consul-General for the Philippines. He is 50th on the party list.


Andrew Little. After graduating Mr Little became an employment lawyer for the Engineers Union striving to “make sure people were treated with fairness and dignity at work”. Mr Little was at No.1 on the Labour list until standing down just week’s out from the poll, and is now ranked third.

David Parker studied in Dunedin, graduating from the University of Otago. He had a long career in business and law before being elected to Parliament as Labour MP in the normally safe National seat of Otago in 2002. He is No.10 on the party’s list.

Raymond Huo is another virtual certainty to be re-elected, as he is No.13 on the list. Mr Huo, who taught himself to speak English in China by listening to the radio, studied law at the China University of Political Studies and Law in Beijing. Mr Huo obtained an LLB from the University of Auckland. Prior to becoming an MP he practised in Auckland at Brookfields and at Hesketh Henry.

Willow-Jean Prime has worked in indigenous issues and treaty claims; she has also received a Centre for Indigenous and Māori Governance PhD scholarship. Northland/ No.17 on list.

Kiri Allan is a commercial lawyer and business consultant with Kahui Legal in Rotorua. Labour. East Coast/ No.21.

Marja Lubeck works in industrial law and workplace negotiations. She was admitted in February 2017. Ms Lubeck has served four terms as president of the Flight Attendant and Related Services Association and is now E tū’s Director of Organising (Aviation). Rodney/ No.32.

Angie Warren-Clark has worked in Bay of Plenty for over 10 years in the field of domestic violence. She was admitted to the Bar in 1998 as a barrister and solicitor of the High Court and is currently a non-practising lawyer. Bay of Plenty/ No.39.

Helen White is a barrister sole specialising in employment law, She works for employees, employers and unions. Auckland Central/ No.40.

Steph Lewis is an in-house lawyer at the Office of the Privacy Commissioner in Wellington. Whanganui/ No.42.

Duncan Webb is a lawyer and professor who, his biography on the Labour Party website says “has been working since 2010 to help ordinary people in Christchurch get their homes, lives, jobs, and businesses back on track after the earthquakes.” He is a director at Duncan Webb Lawyers in Christchurch. Labour, Christchurch Central/ No.43.

Jin An was a prosecutor, and is now an in-house lawyer at the Ministry of Business Innovation & Employment. Jin An began her career as a social advocate, going on to become the first police prosecutor of Korean descent. Upper Harbour/ No.53

Tony Savage is currently practising in Whangarei, specialising in property and commercial law. Whangarei/ No.56.

Brooke Loader, litigation lawyer specialising in Treaty and Maori issues, with Te Mata Law in Auckland. Waikato/ No.57.

Ben Sanford, is a three-time New Zealand Winter Olympian in the skeleton and is a member of the New Zealand Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency Athlete Committee. He works at Sandford and Partners in Rotorua. Rotorua/ No.58.

Sam McDonald has worked as criminal lawyer and teacher – Tamaki/ No.61


Golriz Ghahraman is an Auckland-based human rights lawyer who has worked as a prosecutor and defence lawyer at United Nations tribunals for Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, and the Khmer Rouge tribunal in Cambodia, on trials of former heads of state accused of committing international crimes and human rights violations. She is standing in Te Atatu and is ranked No.8.

Metiria Turei is standing for Te Tai Tonga only after resigning as co-leader and removing herself from the party list following recriminations after she admitted to benefit fraud in her 20’s. She put herself through law school, graduating in 1999 from Auckland University and going on to work as a commercial lawyer at Simpson Grierson.

Teall Crossen is a senior solicitor at the Department of Conservation, where she advises on resource management, wildlife, conservation and international law. She is also chair of the Government Legal Network International Law Practice Group.  Ms Crossen has represented Pacific countries in climate change negotiations at the United Nations and worked for Greenpeace International on climate change litigation. Rongotai/ No.15.

Rochelle Surendran is a former lawyer and civil servant, turned social entrepreneur and changemaker. She is contesting Invercargill and is No.35 on the list.

New Zealand First

Winston Peters studied history, politics and law at the University of Auckland and graduated BA and LLB before working both as a lawyer for Russell McVeagh and as a teacher. Mr Peters is hoping to defend his Northland electorate which he won in a by-election in 2015. But if he doesn’t, he will likely gain his usual seat in the Beehive via the list where is perched at the top.

Denis O’Rourke studied at the University of Canterbury, graduating with a Bachelor of Laws, and went on to practise law, specialising in legal drafting, statutory interpretation and commercial law, until 1992. He is standing in Port Hills and is 13 on the list, six places lower than in 2014.


Ted Faleauto Johnston is a barrister sole in Manukau. He is standing in Manukau East and is 13th on the list. The party’s website says Mr Faleauto has worked as a criminal lawyer for almost 25 years in South Auckland.


Shan Ng, Mana
As a trained commercial lawyer admitted to the bar in the UK, Malaysia, and New Zealand, Shan speaks four languages and works in a Wellington business. Ms Ng is no longer registered. She is contesting Mana and is No.8 on ACT’s list.