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

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

David Ehlers

Webb Farry - Legal Profession Representative

Mihiata Pirini

University of Otago

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.

Paul Ellicott - rōia / lawyer

Paul commenced work with Ngāi Tahu  Māori Law Centre in January 2021. He previously worked for 6 years as a General Practice Solicitor in a Dunedin firm. Paul recently completed Poupou Huia Te Reo Level 4 through Te Wānanga o Raukawa and intends to develop his Te Reo and  Mātauranga Māori. He has been regularly involved with Globe Theatre Dunedin as a Director, Actor and Committee Member, and has previously volunteered with Otago Youth Wellness Trust, Dunedin Fringe Festival and Dog Rescue Dunedin Charitable Trust.  A Dunedin local, Paul enjoys the lifestyle on offer here and values his relationships in the community. Through his role he aims to support and empower people in reaching their Māori Land aspirations.

Jessie Paterson - rōia / lawyer

Jessie has been with the Ngāi Tahu Māori Law Centre since July 2017, first as a volunteer, then Law clerk and now Lawyer. Jessie graduated from the University of Otago in 2018 with a law and arts degree (politics and indigenous development). Jessie is passionate about promoting both the interests and culture of Māori. She is currently studying Te Reo at Te Wananga o Aotearoa, which she incorporates into both her mahi at Law Centre and personal life. She is also a member of the Otago Womens Lawyers' Society (OWLS). 

Outside of work, Jessie’s interests include exercise/sport, coffee, travel and photography.

Florence Dean - rōia / lawyer

Florence started volunteering for the Ngāi Tahu Māori Law Centre in her final her of university. She graduated with a Bachelor of Laws in 2019, and began working at the Ngāi Tahu Māori Law Centre soon after. At university Florence placed a strong focus on the relationship between Māori and the law, and Tikanga Māori which drew her to the role at the Centre. Florence is passionate about social justice and has volunteered with the Red Cross and environmental, animal rights, and mental-health related student groups. She also has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Sociology.

Outside of work, Florence enjoys drinking copious amounts of coffee, tramping, surfing, art, writing, and spending time with friends and whānau.

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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