I would like to begin my reflection by recognising those who made it possible for me to attend the conference as a student. The scholarship was so appreciated and I found the experience highly valuable!
I am passionate about community development and have been working in the sector since finishing high school back in 2004. My experience with the justice system really came to a head while working for the Department of Corrections as a Probation Officer. I had a glimpse into areas of our justice system that were and weren’t working well, and the disparity of outcomes for clients depending on their ability to access justice and navigate the system. This experience inspired me to study law and grew a passion in me for public law and human rights.
The 2021 IAWJ conference was particularly of interest to me because of it’s focus on social justice. A standout speaker for me was Judge Taumaunu. His experience of creating a court that was accessible, and helpful, to youth was admirable! I was extremely curious about his future project regarding the District Court set up and would love to follow these developments!
Hearing about the history of Ōrākei Marae was incredibly inspiring. I found it very humbling to consider how hard the Ngāti Whātua had to fight for their land and recognition. It showed me how important it is to ensure the rights of Aotearoa New Zealand’s indigenous people are highlighted when considering issues such as access to justice and the system of law followed by the country. It was encouraging to hear murmurings of tikanga being brought into our legal system.
An obvious reflection from the conference was the contrast between the challenges faced by Aotearoa New Zealand Judges and some of the international Judges. It was eye opening to hear about the intense struggles faced by the women Judge’s in Afghanistan. It is a huge injustice that they risk their lives just by doing their jobs. I particularly struggle with the concept that these women are desperate for help and support but there seems to be little tangible way to provide this. Our privilege and freedom in Aotearoa New Zealand can’t be taken for granted.
Over all, the conference was a great experience and amazing opportunity to meet incredible female professionals who have done remarkable pieces of work! It encouraged me to continue in my legal studies and gave me ideas for what I may be able to do with my degree in the future.