Henrietta Harper

Firstly, I would like to thank the Women of the NZWAJ for awarding me this scholarship. It was a true honour to have been chosen and it was an incredibly valuable experience to be in attendance at the Biennial Conference. I would also like to thank the people of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei for their hospitality at the Marae for the first day of the conference.

In my application for this scholarship I spoke about my desire to work within the Public Interest Sector of the legal industry, to continue my work advocating for Youth within our Justice System and breaking down barriers regarding access to justice. Following this I expressed my desire to become a judge one day, something that has only been strengthened by my attendance at this conference. Hearing about the changes that have come due to the work of our judiciary and the space that the judiciary has to continue to break down barriers within New Zealand has only inspired me further, and given me another sense of purpose in this pursuit.

While I do love everything that I partake in, and have found that the work I do with the Prison Education Project, Law for Change UC and at Community Law Canterbury has changed the course of my studies. The passion that I have for each of these organisations has given me a sense of purpose that is hard to put into words. It is hard to not feel discouraged and unmotivated at times. In the weeks before the conference I was burnt out, disheartened and could not seem to find motivation to progress with any projects. This conference provided me with a great deal of motivation, ideas and drive. Day three was a particularly inspiring day in regard to these emotions, in the session on Judicial Leadership Baroness Brenda Hale touched on the feeling of uncertainty young women feel. She spoke to the importance of encouraging young women in gaining confidence as there is a large amount of self-doubt there, while young men seem to know everything from day one. This resonated with me in particular, as often I feel unable to speak to topics I am knowledgeable in from practical experience within the area.

Following Hon. Denise Clark’s presentation about the establishment of the Rangathi Court in New Zealand, and the principles behind the application I took another look at how seminars for the Prison Education Project are run. While we have made a great effort to incorporate principles of Tikanga into our resources and seminars, there are still many ways in which we can improve. I plan to incorporate many of the underlaying principles of the Rangathi Court into this Project.

The three days attending this conference were empowering, educational and incredibly emotional, with many of the topics bring tears to my eyes. I took something away from each of the presentations over the course of the three days, and cannot express my gratitude to the NZAWJ enough.