Te Hunga Rōia Māori co-presidents Renika Siciliano (Waikato, Ngāti Maniapoto) and Baden Vertongen (Ngāti Raukawa) dedicate this special edition of LawTalk to Matua Moana Jackson and all those who have paved the way, enabling Māori to be themselves within the profession and who have inspired – and often challenged – us to continue their legacies.
E Moana, nāu i takahi i te ara, nāu i whakatūria i te pae hei whāinga mā mātou, moe okioki rā e te Rangatira.
E ngā rau awa o ngā waka o te motu, e ngā maunga whakahī o neherā, nei rā ngā mihi i runga anō i ngā āhuatanga o te wā, tae atu ki ō tātou tini aituā. Kua tangihia o tātou tini mate huri noa i te motu. Nā reira, tēnā koutou katoa
Mā te Ture, Mō te Iwi – By the Law, For the People. This is the kaupapa/vision of Te Hunga Rōia Māori o Aotearoa. This kaupapa has been fundamental throughout the 35-year history of Te Hunga Rōia Māori, from humble beginnings in 1988 to today where we are able to celebrate the successes of members in all parts of the profession and all parts of Aotearoa.
As we celebrate 35 years, the story of Te Hunga Rōia Māori has been one of bravery, resilience, challenge, change, excellence, and above all, rangatiratanga.
Already in 2023, we have seen these qualities come to the fore amongst both our legal community but also the wider community and iwi we serve. We have not yet hit winter but have seen Huripare Kāpiriere (Cyclone Gabrielle) and other extreme weather events devastate many of our communities, while in the midst a year of political challenge and uncertainty.
We have seen the end of an era with the retirement of Judge Wilson Isaacs from the roles of Chief Judge of the Māori Land Court and Chair of the Waitangi Tribunal after almost 14 years. On behalf of Te Hunga Rōia Māori and no doubt all those appearing in those forums, we thank Chief Judge Isaacs for his humility, his leadership, and his humour.
We celebrate that for the first time ever, the Māori Land Court has an even split of male and female judges on the bench, with Acting Chief Judge Caren Fox at the helm. The Māori Land Court is now the only court in the country to have a balanced representation. We also celebrate the appointment of Judge Sheena Tepania as the first Māori Environment Court Judge, and the judicial appointments of Judge Alana Thomas (Māori Land Court), Judge Tania Williams (Family Court) and Judge Ngaroma Tahana (District Court).
Though the year has already brought challenges for many, there has certainly been moments to treasure. As a country, we have witnessed the unity and manaakitanga of iwi through natural disasters and revelled in the magnificent contributions of Te Hunga Rōia Māori members at Te Matatini (on stage and off).
Our resilience has meant that for every down, there is an up. And still, as lawyers, we continue – mā te ture, mō te iwi.
In doing so, we acknowledge Matua Moana Jackson and his immeasurable contribution to the law and to Te Hunga Rōia Māori. Words cannot do justice to this. Not only did Matua Moana contribute so much personally, the ripples of his influence and support for others in the law are endless.
This edition seeks to honour his legacy as we reflect on important mahi across all areas of the law – from commercial law to whenua Māori, and to family and criminal spaces in the regions. In this edition, we also reflect on our journey in respect of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and look to the place of alternative dispute resolution in our future. This is but a small part of what ngā rōia Māori are doing everyday to help the Māori communities they are part of. We look forward to further celebrating our members and their efforts at our Hui-ā-Tau/Annual Conference, to be held in Kirikiriroa, Hamilton in August 2023.
We dedicate this edition to Matua Moana and all those who have paved the way for us today, enabling us to be ourselves within the profession and who have inspired – and often challenged - us to continue their legacies.