Statement of Te Hunga Rōia Māori o Aotearoa on safe workplace culture


Tauārai o te Pō, tītoko o te ao mārama
One who obstructs the works of Darkness and opens up the World of Sight

Te Hunga Rōia Māori o Aotearoa is a national Māori body whose membership includes Māori members of the judiciary, members of parliament, legal practitioners, legal academics, public servants and law students. Te Hunga Rōia Māori o Aotearoa focuses on strengthening networks amongst its membership, making submissions on a range of policies and proposed legislation, ensuring representation of its membership on various legal committees and holding an annual national hui.

Te Hunga Rōia Māori o Aotearoa, the New Zealand Māori Law Society, will work to ensure a safe workplace culture and provide support to any member affected by sexual misconduct in the legal sector.

The comments follow recent media coverage of sexual misconduct complaints in the legal profession.

Tu’inukutavake Barron Afeaki, Tumuaki Tane of Te Hunga Rōia Māori, says “it is crucial that lawyers, law students and all staff in the legal sector are safe and supported in the workplace. A culture that permits abuses of power or turns a blind eye to sexual misconduct, harassment, and bullying, must be confronted. We will be adding the issue of workplace culture to our work programme and to the agenda for our national hui in October.”

The objectives of Te Hunga Rōia Māori o Aotearoa include acting in a manner that is consistent with tikanga Māori and promoting mutual support amongst its members. The organisation also promotes Ngā Pou Tikanga (Guiding Principles) such as whakawhanaungatanga (networking/relationships), manaakitanga (support/advocacy) and Tuakana-Teina (mentoring/professional development).

Ophir Cassidy, Tumuaki Wahine of Te Hunga Rōia Māori, notes that tikanga Māori requires all people to be treated with respect and dignity. “It is incumbent on us to observe and uphold mana wahine, mana tane and mana i te tangata in our work in the legal sector, within our own membership and how we treat all people.”

Te Hunga Rōia Māori is currently discussing the establishment of a formal “Friends Panel” of senior Māori practitioners to assist members in need of support. The current issues confronting the profession emphasise the need for a panel to be implemented quickly. Te Hunga Rōia Māori intends to do this immediately and will notify our members once the panel is in place.

“It is intended that the panel will be made up of tuakana in the law who can be approached on a
confidential basis to discuss sensitive or difficult issues our members may be experiencing in the
legal sector. We encourage our members to contact us for support and assistance.”

Contact details:
Ophir Cassidy: 021 861 807
Tu’inukutavake Barron Afeaki: 021 828 253


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