Naahi Taiaroa grew up in Dunedin. She attended Kaikorai Valley College and studied art subjects through high school.
"I did all art subjects through school – painting, printmaking, design, sewing, art history. After finishing school I worked for Westpac for a year. It wasn't really my thing and I never intended on making that a career. I needed a gap year."
Naahi then moved to Christchurch to pursue an arts/design career by enrolling at Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT) saying, "I come from a very creative family and it seemed like the natural choice at the time."
After studying at CPIT for a while Naahi chose a different route.
"I decided it wasn't for me and I wanted to do something different… I started working for Simon Stock in 2012 and graduated from Canterbury in 2013 and was admitted in March 2013."
When did you realise that you wanted to be a lawyer?
Naahi followed a different path to a lot of young law graduates who tend to study English-type subjects and debating at high school; instead Naahi studied art subjects. She didn't naturally progress into the study of law from high school.
"I don't have any defining moment that I can think of that I thought 'I want to be a lawyer'. A good friend of mine was studying law and it was something that I had never considered before, so that's probably where it started from."
Sharing a story about when she made the decision to study law, she says she announced it to her friends while drawing one day: "…nobody took it seriously. But that is exactly what I did. I had something to prove – probably just to myself."
Naahi is currently in the process of applying to practise on her own account and to become a partner at Simon Stock Lawyers. She is one of the youngest lawyers in New Zealand to do this.
What made you want to decide to practise on your own account at such a young age?
"I have been very fortunate to be given an opportunity that is probably not common for a young lawyer. In the beginning when this was being discussed I had reservations. I still went ahead and completed the Stepping Up course. I came back from that terrified about becoming partner. I think that was good; it made me really weigh up all the pros and cons and really consider what I am going to undertake."
What do enjoy most about being a lawyer?
"I really enjoy where I work. I get to be my own boss. No problems if I get to work late. I don't have to ask if I can change my lunch break, I can take as long as I want. I get to sit by the window, and if I want a holiday I can just plan it without having to ask."
Naahi also enjoys the opportunity to help people through her work. "I get the opportunity to help someone who really needs my help. It feels good to be that person."
Is there anything you wish you learnt in law school that wasn't covered, either in study or practically?
"More practical skills."
After finishing study, did you find the job matched the expectations you had in school?
"This is a good question – I was lucky enough that I worked for Simon before finishing study so I had a good grasp on what the job was. However, prior to that I do think I had huge expectations of what I would be doing - that was probably from watching too much Boston Legal."
Like a lot of lawyers, Naahi values the practical experience and knowledge she has learnt on the job saying, "I've found that the skills/knowledge for my area of practice is very different to law school."
Are there any issues currently facing the legal profession that you'd like to highlight?
"There is a lot of discussion going on within the profession about the nature and volume of complaints against lawyers. It will be interesting to see what happens in this area, and whether it is time for the current complaint system to be reviewed."
What are your favourite books/musicians/movies?
"Well this gets embarrassing…The Book Thief, Harry Potter, The Alchemist."
She continues on her music choices: "I think if you asked my friends, the first thing they would say is Britney Spears. If you ask my partner he would say Katy Perry. I thought I was 'cooler' than that!"
Along with books and music, Naahi says she alternates between MTV and the E! Channel with reality television programs being a favourite. She also still continues to paint and draw, and to play around with photography when she feels inspired.
"I have a dog named Thundercub – boxer cross and a Bengal cat named Mo. They don't get on so that's difficult! Ideally if I could, I would adopt every dog needing a home. That would be my dream. At the moment we are trying to convince Simon to get an office dog."
Angharad is a Wellington journalist.