Tauranga firm welcomes Māori law specialist

The solicitor and barrister joins the firm as Special Counsel and is set to build a new team

Tauranga firm welcomes Māori law specialist

Local Tauranga firm Sharp Tudhope is welcoming the return of Joshua Gear, who will be joining as Special Counsel.

Gear was a senior solicitor with Sharp Tudhope until 2014, handling resource management law and civil litigation. He has since worked extensively on Māori legal issues and land law, and he spent a number of years with Māori land law firm Koning Webster, where he handled Treaty negotiation matters and settlement issues.

In 2017 Gear became the in-house legal counsel for Ngāi Te Rangi Settlement Trust, where he helped with overlapping settlement claims. Gear started up his own practice in 2021, and he says that while being a sole practitioner has been an invaluable experience, he is looking forward to returning to work as part of a team.

“I’ve worked for myself for the last three years, which has been amazing while also having its pros and cons,” Gear tells NZ Lawyer.

“I’ve kept my relationships alive with everyone I’ve worked with throughout my journey, and that’s been really valuable. What I missed most was having that team drive, and it was great to be able to re-connect with the partners at Sharp Tudhope and come on board.”

Gear will be building a team that specialises in Environmental and Māori legal issues – a fresh focus for Sharp Tudhope, which already hosts a broad spectrum of practice areas. He says that having the mandate to build up his practice within the firm is an excellent opportunity, both for himself and for his existing clients.

“One of the hard things about being a sole practitioner is that you work in a limited practice area,” Gear comments.

“I’ve had to refer clients onto others many times, but when you’re within a firm, you can do it all under one roof. I can see that being really beneficial to my clients.”

Gear’s practice at Sharp Tudhope has come at a crucial time, and 2024 is already shaping up to be a busy year. Currently he is representing clients to progress their claims for Customary Marine Title with the Crown, and Gear says we can likely expect to see more Treaty issues brought before the courts throughout this year.

“There are a lot of challenges, and it’s a major issue for our iwi here in Tauranga and across Aotearoa,” Gear comments. “I think we’re going to see a lot of legal action in this space.

“I’m really happy to be working alongside Sharp Tudhope’s team again, and to have that support, collegiality and encouragement to grow.”

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