Maddy Brownlee

I could write an abundance of synonyms describing how my experience at the IAWJ conference altered my perception of women judges. I was lucky to attend this conference virtually, something we became all too comfortable with from 2020. Listening to Māori speakers, both men and women, challenged my ideas about Māori relationships with the law, especially Māori wāhine in the legal system. The overall theme for the conference was diversity, and this was celebrated in a respectful and in profound way. The Pōhiri on the morning of the first day of the conference was an amazing and eye-opening view into how the cultural practices of Māori are celebrated within the association. After studying the Treaty of Waitangi and Crown obligations, it was captivating  listening to Sharon Hawke speaking about the Crown obligations to indigenous peoples, particularly, the obligations of the Crown to Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei. The judicial speakers from around the world spoke with passion and strength about their chosen topics. Of particular importance and something that resonated with me was the ideas that Judge Heemi Taumanu spoke about. Judge Heemi Taumanu stated that in law school, students should be equipped, and subsequently graduate with the knowledge that gender equality should be engrained in everything we do. The experiences and ideas from judicial leaders from around the world allowed me to understand the background ideas to working as a woman in the law. This conference was an amazing way to see the ins and outs of the judicial system from the point of view of different speakers. I am very grateful to have received the opportunity to watch the conference and will taking much insightful information away with me.