New Zealand Law Society - No little green men at space lawyer's table

No little green men at space lawyer's table

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Laws of outer space, international space law and cyber law may be her speciality but Dr Maria Pozza says she doesn't talk to aliens or extra-terrestials – there's a woman at the United Nations who does that.

That's according to some media reports.

It is not known if Malaysian astrophysicist and Otago University graduate Mazlan Binti Othman, of the UN's Office for Outer Space Affairs, does chat to little green men, but Maria Pozza says that's not her bag.

Maria Antonia (Maria) Pozza
Peterborough, Cambridge, England. 
Not telling. 
Entry to law
Graduated LLB(Hons) from Birmingham City University in 2004, Master of International Studies in 2010, PhD in law from Otago University in 2013. Admitted in New Zealand 2014. 
Consultant Lawyer at Helmore Ayers, Christchurch. 
Speciality area
International space law, laws of outer space, aviation law, cyber law.
Maria Pozza
Maria Pozza

Recently one of five international lawyers to win a 2016 Inter-Pacific Bar Association (IPBA) young lawyers scholarship, Maria is a consultant with Christchurch firm Helmores Ayers.

What's the attraction of space law?

"I have always been a big fan of technology, always like dabbling in it, looking at the latest things, but never buying anything," says Maria.

"I am forever giving public lectures on space law..." 

"I was sitting under a tree and a bit of space debris hit me on the head - the other guy had an apple hit him…

"No, I came across the topic by sheer coincidence and accident while in the library undertaking a review of possible topics to write for my masters of international studies…

"I couldn't see many books on the topic so decided to write about it, hence my love affair with space started…"

She says space law is important from the simplest aspect of using mobile phones, checking such things as weather and navigation.

"We rely on space technology every day … It has a direct impact into our lives and business operations…

"I deal with space assets such as satellites and law pertaining to uses of satellites and law pertaining to states and non-state entities who wish to conduct activities in outer space - including the use of weaponry in outer space…

"When I did my PhD my view was not whether there should or shouldn't be weaponry in space, it has already happened…

"We now need to work on controlling it and implementing international law to control it…"

A prolific publisher who is writing a book on space law – "I like publishing work" – Maria publishes for a variety of outlets, including blogs and science and legal journals. "I am forever giving public lectures on space law, it's never ending…"

A volunteer in Kenya while at her last year in school, followed by an internship in Texas between her second and third year in law school installed a strong sense of social justice in Maria.

"In Texas I was in direct contact with people on death row … That gave me a new perspective on social justice and the legal system … It opened my eyes to how you learned about social justice and legal system at law school and how it actually operates … It was an eye opening experience for me and hard to explain; I carry it around with me…"

An avid reader on social justice, she is also working as a reviewer with Victoria University on the Law Foundation-funded feminist judgments project, which is aimed at writing alternative feminist judgments of a number of significant New Zealand cases across a broad range of legal issue.

"It's an experiment to see if results would have been different had a feminist perspective been taken in a handful of cases…"

Away from work Maria enjoys going to art galleries and museums – "I don't collect or paint, I like looking" – and hiking round Christchurch's easy going Port Hills.

"I like watching cricket and rugby and one of my friends is an avid cricket player … I didn't think much of rugby when I first came to New Zealand, but soon got swept up in the All Blacks and Crusaders…

"I go to the gym, and play social badminton and squash … Sky diving is on my to-do list because I'm so interested in aviation…

"I also like touring on my motorbike … At the moment I have a Chinese 50cc Keeway Milan scooter which runs on $7 of petrol every three weeks … Previously I had a 750cc Ducatti but don't say anything about that…

"My age is a guarded secret and so is the motorbike but I am happy for you to say that Dr Pozza is a young professional and wise beyond her years…"

A fan of British novelist Louis de Bernieres (Captain Corelli's Mandolin), Maria is now into a new Lawrence Norfolk book - In The Shape Of A Boar - a historical fictional novel set between two different times and locations.

"I've always had a soft spot for Phantom of the Opera and have seen it and Les Miserables many times in the UK…

"I played the piano, violin and flute but prefer singing opera – Madame Butterfly, Tosca, La Boheme – anything by Maria Callas … I'm not very good, just ask the ladies in the office…

"What is this thing television??? I have no opportunity to watch it … And don't know what's going on in Shortland Street, so don't ask me…"

Holidays include returning to visit family in the UK. "I am fortunate with my job in that I can undertake some international travel to conferences and giving talks … If I get downtime I do the tourist thing and go on bus tours…

"I drive a green 1997 Honda with only about 60,000kms, I think it's a Civic…"

Her favourite dinner guests would include Cleopatra, Boudicca, Joan of Arc, Marie Curie, Eva Peron and Benazir Bhutto.

"They were all instrumental in changing the world in some way and I wouldn't mind having dinner with them to find out more…"

Unmarried and with a regular black and white short haired cat called Lucie – "he is a mini Egyptian god who knew many years ago he was a god and has never forgotten it – Maria recently signed up to be a pro-bono Citizens Advice Bureau advisor and is on the roster for court lawyers in Christchurch.

An alternative career???

"I would be an astronaut lawyer offering legal services on Mars…"

Jock Anderson has been writing and commenting on New Zealand lawyers and New Zealand's courts for most of his career in journalism. Contact Jock at

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