New Zealand Law Society - Maori law conference will be unique

Maori law conference will be unique

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This year’s Te Hunga Rōia Māori o Aotearoa (THRMoA) Hui-ā-Tau will be unique for a number of reasons, says THRMoA Co-President Aidan Warren.

Recognising and celebrating 175 years since the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi will be a feature of this Māori Law Society Conference, to be held in Waitangi from 3 to 5 September. That is the main reason for the choice of venue, Mr Warren says.

The Hui-ā-Tau will be “unique to the extent that it is not just about black letter law. Here you are getting the whole ambit.”

From discussion of Treaty of Waitangi issues (and not just constitutional issues), through to healthy living and practising well, relationships and law reform to workshops covering practical lawyering skills, “there is something for everyone.”

“There are some high profile people coming this year,” Mr Warren notes, “including the Chief Justice, Dame Sian Elias; Chief District Court Judge Jan-Marie Doogue, Chief Māori Land Court Judge Wilson Isaac, and Justice Lowell Goddard.”

The conference will have three main themes.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi

The first is around the Treaty of Waitangi. “Throughout the conference, there will be a number of sessions around Treaty issues, including natural resource protection and strategies for getting the best for your client in treaty negotiations,” Mr Warren says.

The Chief Justice and Moana Jackson will give the opening keynote address on the topic Te Tiriti o Waitangi – 175 years on. They will look at the meaning and purpose of the treaty: the past, the present and the future.

As well as constitutional arguments and discussions, there will also be practical Treaty-related sessions, such as tips for litigating against the Crown.


The second theme is Hauora. It will focus on healthy living and practising well in a holistic sense.

That will cover a range of issues including practical tips for using te Reo in written and oral legal work, the voice of tamariki in the Family Court process, Te Ture Whenua Māori Act reform, and incorporating tikanga Māori in the Coroner’s Court.

The healthy living dimension will also be reflected in the sporting activities that are part of the conference’s social programme.


Whakawhanaungatanga, or relationships, is the third main theme.

“Some would argue that relationships are at the core of being Māori: relationships with our ancestors – those who have gone before us – relationships with the land and natural resources, and also relationships with the living, with each other,” Mr Warren says.

“Part of being a practising lawyer in 2015 is that relationships are important. In the context of this conference, whakawhanaungatanga is also drawn from building relationships outside the Māori Law Society.”

Three judges of Samoan descent – Judge Ida Malosi, Judge Mata Tuatagaloa and Judge Leilani Tuala-Warren – will present a Pasifika perspective on custom, law and gender.

Continuing Professional Development

Underpinning the whole conference in a learning sense is a series of very practical sessions.

“Because of the introduction of CPD, we have had to make sure that our conference is giving those who attend the opportunity to gain practical skills,” Mr Warren says.

As well as the practical sessions already mentioned, others include how best to get a job in 2015, criminal defence advocacy and incorporating Tikanga Māori in commercial agreements and deeds.

The overarching conference theme is based on a whakataukī gifted to the New Zealand Police by the late Dr Apirana Mahuika. It is “E tū ki te kei o te waka, kia pakia koe e ngā ngaru o te wā – Stand at the stern of the canoe and feel the spray of the future biting at your face”.

“Increasingly, Māori lawyers are being put in positions of leadership,” Mr Warren says. “With leadership, you feel that spray in your face. How are you going to manage that? We hope that we can equip our members with some of the practical tools, relationships and holistic wellbeing they will need to be the best possible leaders for not only their whānau, hapū and iwi but also for New Zealand”.

Mr Warren also acknowledged the conference’s main sponsors. “We are grateful to have the support of Chapman Tripp, Deloitte, AUT Law School, Westpac and the New Zealand Law Foundation this year, without whom our conference would not be possible”.

For more information and to register, see

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