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McCaw Lewis' active community involvement

02 March 2018 - By Craig Stephen

A Hamilton firm is reaching out to the growing Pacific communities and Māori entrepreneurs in the Waikato region.

McCaw Lewis is a long-standing firm in the city with 51 staff.

Recently, it established the Pasifika Law Initiative to further develop its relationship with the Pacific community in Waikato.

Aidan Warren, the firm’s Managing Director, says McCaw Lewis recognised the growing Pacific population in the region which translated to growing Pasifika-owned businesses and professionals in the workforce.

“We acknowledged that we could add value to the development of these Pasifika businesses through the provision of specialised legal services with the right cultural pitch, and in addition create opportunities to network with other like-minded professionals in other areas of expertise and disciplines.”

The initiative has its roots in Mr Warren’s involvement with the Pacific communities in Hamilton and in Samoa where his wife is Supreme Court Justice. It was developed into a project by one of the firm’s lawyers, Jerome Burgess, who is of Samoan descent.

The initiative has led to McCaw Lewis becoming the official law firm for the Waikato Pacific Business Network and Mr Warren is a member of its Executive Committee.

McCaw Lewis has also had a long-term involvement in Māori legal work where understanding and embracing culture and different world views is as important as the legal advice provided.

Te Hūmeka Waikato Māori Business Network

The firm sponsors time for Stacey Fifield, the firm’s Branding and Event Coordinator, to provide administrative support to the Te Hūmeka Waikato Māori Business Network.

The Network was founded in 2010 as a non-profit organisation whose main function was to support Māori businesses and help them to network. Mr Warren is the Co-Chair and other staff members provide support and advice when required.

The staff at McCaw Te Humeka
From left to right: Stacey Fifield, Aidan Warren
and Kim Hill, Co-Chair of Te Hūmeka.

“Te Hūmeka organises educational and informative evenings where we can bring our members together to network so they can share their experiences in owning their own businesses in the Māori community,” says Ms Fifield.

“We aim to do four events per year: we provide a Facebook page to promote and advertise our members and we also have a website with a directory. McCaw Lewis holds events at their offices and, when needed, helps with legal requirements such as establishing a constitution.

“The events are pretty informal; we have two or three main speakers who share information about what could help our members. McCaw Lewis has an experienced Māori legal team so we cover Māori legal cases or developments in that area of law.

“We also promote local businesses that are doing well or are relatively newly established. One of the last events of 2017 was at Nourish Pod, a one-year-old café owned by a woman of Māori descent who recently returned from Australia. It was a great opportunity to learn about her journey and what she wanting to achieve.”

Cricket connection

McCaw Lewis is one of the sponsors of the Northern Districts cricket team, which mainly plays at Seddon Park in Hamilton, but represents associations from Poverty Bay to Northland, excluding Auckland. It is the home for several Black Caps regulars including Kane Williamson, Trent Boult, Ish Sodhi and BJ Watling.

“We have been sponsoring them for four years and are the official sponsor of the District’s Māori cricket team,” Ms Fifield says.

The firm began in 1919 as McCaw Smith and Arcus and, over the decades, has morphed into McCaw Lewis with 37 lawyers working at its London Street, Hamilton office.

Its core focus is in six areas: commercial, Māori legal, property, dispute resolution, workplace law and asset planning legal services.

Among other community and pro bono projects, they assist Angel Casts which creates detailed hand and feet replicas from a baby or child for parents who have suffered a loss. The 3D stone casts provide bereaved families with a tangible memory of their child. The firm was involved in establishing the Angel Casts Charitable Trust.

It also has a close relationship with the University of Waikato Faculty of Law (Te Piringa) which includes sponsoring Faculty competitions, employing law students as clerks to gain work experience, providing lawyers to assist with Faculty competitions (such as mock trials) and writing articles for the Waikato Law Review.

The firm has a long association with supporting New Zealand Charities including The Breast Cancer Foundation. The McCaw Lewis Foundation has recently been launched to enable staff and the wider McCaw Lewis whānau to give back to the community in a collective and meaningful way.

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Last updated on the 2nd March 2018