Tiana Epati has been re-elected for a second term as the New Zealand Law Society’s Gisborne branch President. She is the branch’s first President of Polynesian descent.
Ms Epati, who specialises in criminal law, graduated from Auckland University in 2000 with a BA in philosophy and history and an LLB.
She began her working life as a lawyer with Meredith Connell, where she was a Crown prosecutor for four years. In 2004 she moved to Wellington and worked in a similar role at Luke Cunningham Clere.
She moved from criminal work to working in the public law team at a Wellington medium-sized firm on a one-year fixed-term contract. However she found she missed the criminal law work and returned to Luke Cunningham and Clere as an Associate.
In 2008 she moved to Crown Law, working in the criminal law team and appeared as lead counsel on appeals to the Court of Appeal.
Ms Epati’s husband, Matanuku Mahuika, who is a lawyer, is from Gisborne, so they decided to move there, arriving in October 2012. Since then, she has been with Rishworth Wall & Mathieson, working mainly as a criminal defence lawyer. As well as her criminal specialty, Ms Epati is interested in human rights law, and has completed a post-graduate intensive paper in human rights litigation at Auckland University.
Since moving to Gisborne, Ms Epati has become a keen surfer. She also does lots of running and participates in yoga when she can.
With a seven-year-old son, Umuariki, a 3½-year-old daughter, Kura, and her husband, family is a big part of what she does outside of work.The new Gisborne branch Council is: Alison Bendall (Vice-President), Kris Clapham, Ellie Fitzgerald, Michael Gordon, Jess MacLellan, Jonathan Natusch, Mirize Prinsloo, Shahana Saud, Vicki Thorpe and David Ure.