Ngāi Tahu Māori Law Centre

We provide a free legal service for Māori land matters and aim to educate and empower all members of our community.

Tangata People

The Ngāi Tahu Māori Law Centre is governed by a board of trustees made up of local rūnanga representatives, a legal profession representative and a Te Whare Wānanga o Ōtākou / University of Otago representative. The board works closely with kaihautū / manager Joy Smith who manages the day to day workings of the law centre.

Board members:

John Dawson, Chairperson 

Te Whare Wānanga o Ōtākou / University of Otago 

Jane Graveson

Te Rūnanga o Moeraki
Jeff Paterson

Te Rūnanga o Moeraki

Antony Deaker

Kāti Huirapa Rūnaka ki Puketeraki

Fiona Curd

Kāti Huirapa Rūnaka ki Puketeraki

Tim Vial

Te Rūnanga o Ōtākou

Matt Matahaere

Te Rūnanga o Ōtākou

David Ehlers

Webb Farry - Legal Profession Representative

 

Staff members:

Joy Smith - kaihautū/manager

Joy has worked within the Māori Community in administrative and managerial roles for nearly 30 years. Prior to managing the law centre, Joy was the manager at Kāti Huirapa Rūnaka ki Puketeraki; her skills and experience gained from this role transferred and enriched the Ngāi Tahu Māori Law Centre when she joined our team in 2006.  Joy enjoys assisting whānau with their enquiries especially those at grass root level. Joy currently serves on the boards of Aukaha and A3K. Joy is stationed at the reception desk that manages not only the law centre, but Aukaha, A3K, Deglitch IT, Cosy Homes Trust and Te Puni Kōkiri. Interaction with staff and clients of the other organisations we co-house with are another facet of the role that Joy enjoys. Joy’s extensive knowledge of the Dunedin Māori Community and all it has to offer is of immense value to all who walk through our doors.

Outside of work Joy enjoys travelling internationally and various types of hand work.

Haines Ellison - rōia matua / senior lawyer

Haines has been with the Ngāi Tahu Māori Law Centre since January 2009 when he graduated from the University of Otago with a Law and Geography Degree. As the Senior Lawyer, Haines oversees the majority of files within the Law Centre giving him an extensive knowledge of Ngāi Tahu whakapapa and Māori Land Court applications. Haines’ passion is to assist Māori land owners achieve the outcomes they seek for their whenua and whānau. Haines is an accredited mediator, a member of the Resolution Institute (LEADR) and Te Hunga Rōia Māori o Aotearoa (Māori Law Society) and Co-chair of Ngā Kaiāwhina Hapori Māori o Te Ture. Haines is a volunteer mediator for Dunedin Community Mediation and is experienced and committed to community dispute resolution.

Outside of work, Haines' interests include the gym, whakapapa (genealogy) and antiques.

Brylee Sawyer - rōia / lawyer

Brylee has worked at the Ngāi Tahu Māori Law Centre since 2016, first as a law clerk and then as a lawyer following her admission to the bar in March 2017. Brylee is passionate about providing free legal services to those that need them. Brylee has volunteered and worked within the Community Law movement since 2015, volunteering with Community Law Otago and now sitting on their management committee. Brylee is an accredited mediator, a member of the Resolution Institute (LEADR) and a volunteer mediator for Dunedin Community Mediation. Prior to working at the law centre Brylee completed a law degree and a chemistry degree at the University of Otago. Brylee enjoys learning from and empowering her clients and the wider Ōtepoti Māori Community.

Outside of work Brylee enjoys studying te reo Māori at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, playing netball and reading.

Kate McLay - rōia / lawyer

Kate has worked at Ngāi Tahu Māori Law Centre part time since July 2016. Prior to this Kate worked overseas, in a property and legal team of a veterinary corporate in Diss, England. Kate graduated from the University of Otago with a law degree and a bachelor of arts majoring in history and political sciences in 2010. As a university student Kate volunteered with Community Law Otago. Kate then worked as a junior lawyer in property, commercial, employment and estate law before moving to the United Kingdom for two years. The scope of Kate’s prior work experience gives her a wide range of knowledge and expertise that enriches our community and what we can offer our clients. Kate is a member of Ngā Kaiāwhina Hapori Māori o Te Ture and Te Hunga Rōia Māori o Aotearoa (the Māori Law Society). 

Outside of work Kate volunteers her time as a qualified Junior Gymnastics Judge, enjoys shopping at the weekly farmers market and spending time with her young family.

Posala Tioa - karaka o te ture / law clerk

Posala has been with the Ngāi Tahu Māori Law Centre since 2013. He graduated from the University of Otago with Law and Philosophy degrees. Posala works as a law clerk for four hours a week assisting management and staff with administration tasks. Posala is a Minister with the Ekalesia Faapotopotoga Kerisiano Samoa Church and a busy member of the Dunedin Samoan community.

Outside of work, Posala is interested in working for Pacific youths and going to the gym.

Volunteers / Tūao

We also have senior law students from the University of Otago Law Faculty who volunteer with us. Please contact us if you are interested in volunteering your time.

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