Auckland lawyer Rez Gardi has been named University of Auckland Young New Zealander of the Year.
Ms Gardi, who works in corporate litigation at Chapman Tripp, graduated from the University of Auckland with LLB(Hons) and a BA in political studies and international relations, and criminology in 2016. She was admitted as a barrister and solicitor in September 2016.
She was born in a refugee camp in Pakistan. Her family were forced to flee their homeland to escape the persecution of Kurds. She spent the first six years of her life in the refugee camp before her family resettled in New Zealand.
Rez was the first in her family to finish secondary school and to attend university, and she is passionate about supporting young refugees and addressing the under-representation of refugee students in tertiary education.
She recently worked with the University of Auckland to establish three new scholarships for students from refugee backgrounds, as part of the For All Our Futures campaign.
Her Law Honours dissertation was on human rights violations against Kurds and the prospect of Kurdish statehood.
Before joining Chapman Tripp she worked at the United Nations Office in Nairobi as a human rights intern. She also represented New Zealand at the Global Refugee Youth Consultations and annual UNHCR – NGO (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees – Non-Government Organisation) consultation in Geneva in June 2016.