"Change in the legal profession can and will happen if we be true to who we are," Kahui Legal partner says
More and more Māori are joining New Zealand’s legal profession every year, but Māori practitioners continue to face cultural biases that stunt their careers and professional development opportunities.
Nonetheless, it is by staying true to their identity that Māori lawyers can inspire change in the industry.
“Change in the legal profession can and will happen if we be true to who we are, build on our strengths and insist on workplaces that support these dimensions,” Kahui Legal partner Ngaroma Tahana said in a statement published by the New Zealand Law Society.
The firm’s managing partner, Kiri Tahana, presented recommendations to bolster Māori representation in law firms, which included:
- acknowledging and committing to redressing institutional and structural racism from universities, law firms, courts and other workplaces
- advocating for tikanga, reo and Te Tiriti o Waitangi in tertiary curriculums
- encouraging Māori to practice law in accordance with Māori values in a way that understands whānau, hapū and iwi
“Do not compromise on who you are, back yourself and stay connected to your community. This on its own will drive change and require those who lead the legal profession to follow or risk losing an increasing chunk of the legal talent and the changing New Zealand client base,” Ngaroma Tahana told the New Zealand Law Society.