The Hui-ā-Tau (Annual Conference) has been the highlight of the year for Te Hunga Rōia Māori o Aotearoa for decades, with Hui-ā-Tau 2023 shaping up to be no different. Returning to Waikato for the first time in a decade, Renika Siciliano (Waikato, Ngāti Maniapoto) talks us through the highlights of this year’s programme.
The Hui-ā-Tau (Annual Conference) has been the highlight of the year for Te Hunga Rōia Māori o Aotearoa for decades. The Conference is designed specifically for Māori lawyers, academics, Judges and tauira. It provides the safe space where Māori within the legal profession can come together to share their experiences, their knowledge and their journeys with one another.
Over the years, Hui-ā-Tau have been held throughout the regions and across the motu. However the larger the number of members for Te Hunga Rōia Māori, the larger the venues have needed to be, taking us to the larger centres like Auckland and Wellington more frequently.
With the advent of formal CPD requirements amongst the profession, the Hui-ā-Tau has provided CPD in spaces relevant to Māori that have not always been available through other avenues.
In 2023, the four-day conference will offer over 10 hours of CPD across five dedicated streams focussing on those take important to Māori, and relevant for those working with Māori in the law.
This year, the Conference returns to the Waikato for the first time in a decade.
The University of Waikato and Te Piringa, School of Law, will host manuhiri from across Aotearoa on their Kirikiriroa, Hamilton campus from Thursday 24 August to Sunday 27 August 2023.
The Conference was last planned for Hamilton in 2020 but unfortunately those plans were hampered by the impact of COVID, and the Conference went online. After a very successful conference in Christchurch in 2021 – organised by former Tumuaki Jamie-Lee Tuuta and Carwyn Jones – we returned to an online platform in 2022 due to the continued uncertainty COVID brought. As a result of having only one hui-ā-kanohi in the past three years, we expect to see a large turnout for the Conference.
Hui-ā-Tau is not just an opportunity to sharpen our legal minds, it is a time for wānanga, for thought-generation and to remind ourselves of who we are and why we are in this profession
We acknowledge that the Conference would not be possible without the support of our partners, Kiwibank and Deloitte, together with sponsors including the University of Waikato and LexisNexis.
This number of attendees will only be added to by the fact that this year’s conference will be the biggest offering in Te Hunga Rōia Māori history.
A Full Year’s CPD
It is no mean feat to achieve a Conference programme that caters to all members of Te Hunga Rōia Māori. Te Hunga Rōia Māori members practice across all areas of the law and the Conference must cater to everyone to ensure that our members are able to come together and see an educational benefit.
The theme of this year’s Conference was gifted by Dr Tom Roa (Ngāti Maniapoto, Waikato) from the tongi of Kīngi Pōtatau Te Wherowhero in 1860:
Kia mau ki te whakapono, kia mau ki te aroha, ki te ture.
Hold fast to faith, hold fast to love, hold fast to law.
This embraces all that is important in the current climate and particularly in this, the 35th anniversary of Te Hunga Rōia Māori. It shapes the kōrero to be presented at the Conference. In 2023, the Conference will include five streams – Whenua/Te Taiao (Land and Environmental), Te Tiriti (Treaty), Whānau (Family), Taihara (Criminal), and Ture Tauhokohoko (Commercial). Te Hunga Rōia Māori Executive is grateful for the involvement of practitioners across specifical Family and Criminal Kōmiti for taking the lead on the programmes for their respective streams. Keynote and panel sessions also cover some of our most important kōrero including the use of te reo Māori within the law, and keeping safe and well in practice.
The programme includes over 70 presenters including Judges, senior practitioners and academics, without whom Te Hunga Rōia Māori would not be able to function. These kōrero will be just the mauri boost needed to see out the balance of the calendar year following the Conference.
Unique to the annual Te Hunga Rōia Māori conference is the role played by tauira (students).
Tauira are encouraged to attend the Conference to get a taste of what life in the law is like. Importantly, the Conference provides an opportunity to build relationships before becoming part of the profession. A key part of Te Hunga Rōia Māori is ensuring that tuakana-teina relationships are formed from very early on in the law to encourage more Māori within the profession.
Not only that, but for some, the Conference provides a space to demonstrate their technical skills on a greater scale as well. Both the Kaupapa Māori Moot Final and Kaupapa Māori Negotiation Final are held as part of the Conference on the evening of Thursday 24 August. Over the years, these competitions have been a platform to grow and shape young lawyers, and no doubt crystallise future career aspirations.
Not All Seminars and Presentations
One of the most important parts of our programme is the whakawhanaungatanga and whakangahau enabling members to be themselves within the safe space that Te Hunga Rōia Māori provides. The Conference is about more than just legal education, it is a celebration of what makes demonstrating their culture, sharing their journeys and this year, celebrating 35 years of Te Hunga Rōia Māori.
The Conference programme for Friday evening includes Te Matature, a regional kapahaka showcase where practitioners and tauira come together to perform waiata and haka. Te Matature was first added to the Conference programme in 2018 in Te Whanganui-ā-Tara (Wellington) by former Tumuaki, Rohario Murray and Glenn Tootill. While it may not yet be of Te Matatini quality, the showcase is both competitive and light-hearted with a focus on celebrating and remaining connected to our culture as Māori.
The Saturday programme includes the formal Conference Dinner which will be held at Globox Claudelands Arena with capacity for over 500 attendees. This year, as we celebrate 35 years of Te Hunga Rōia Māori and acknowledge our members in various spaces, the Dinner is sure to be a highlight. For those busy in hearings, with whānau or with other mahi during the week, Conference Dinner tickets are able to be purchased separately.
Hui-ā-Tau is not just an opportunity to sharpen our legal minds, it is a time for wānanga, for thought-generation and to remind ourselves of who we are and why we are in this profession.