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.

Welcome Grace and Caitlin

Kia ora e te whānau,

Nau mai haere mai to Caitlin Smith and Grace O’Hagan, our two new law clerks on the scene at the Ngāi Tahu Māori Law Centre. Both have law degrees from Otago University and are working towards completing their Professionals later this year.

Caitlin has a strong research background, having worked as a Research Assistant for the Otago Law Faculty before joining us. She has volunteered for a number of community organisations, including Community Law Otago, Pride in Law Otago, and Ōtepoti Collective Against Sexual Abuse.

Grace completed a Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Development alongside her law degree. Similar to Caitlin, Grace has spent time volunteering for various community organisations, such as Citizens Advice Bureau, Community Law Otago and Law for Change.

We are thrilled to have these two new kaimahi on the team, who have a clear drive to promote access to justice and to help clients achieve their goals with whenua Māori.

Farewell to Jessie

Farewell to Jessie

Kia ora koutou,

Ngā mihi o te tau hou! We hope that you had a great holiday season.

We begin this year with a farewell. At the end of 2021 we said goodbye to our powerhouse lawyer Jessie Paterson. Jessie joined the Ngāi Tahu Māori Law Centre as a volunteer in 2017, starting a law clerk role after graduating from Otago University, and quickly became a proficient lawyer. Jessie took on some highly challenging and complex files as a young lawyer, and was able to handle these with impressive skill and professionalism. She provided high quality service on a wide range of Māori land law issues, and developed strong whanaungatanga with her clients. We will miss her, and wish her all the best in her next chapter at Aspiring Law.


Wanting to make an appointment with us? Here is some information of how things are running under the Covid traffic light system.

The Law Centre welcomes all visitors into our office – whether vaccinated or unvaccinated. However, we have a few guidelines in place to keep everyone safe.

For all visitors:

  • Please make an appointment before coming in.
  • Sign in using the Covid QR scanner or physical sheet in reception.
  • Mask wearing is encouraged but not mandatory.
  • Sanitiser is available for anyone who wants to use it.

Additional info:

  • Vaccinated visitors can enter all areas of our office subject to staff approval.
  • Unvaccinated visitors must stay in public office areas: reception + hui room + toilets. Staff will wear masks and observe physical distancing.

Farewell to Kate

Farewell to Kate

On Friday 22 October, we bid farewell our wonderful lawyer Kate. Kate has moved on to local firm Downie Stewart, where she is working primarily in the trusts space.


Kate achieved a lot in her five years at the Law Centre despite only being part-time. Kate assisted clients on a range of different issues including some of the most difficult applications you can file in the Māori Land Court. She was also highly engaged in various groups/organisations: she was a member of Te Hunga Rōia Māori o Aotearoa, committee member of the Otago Women Lawyers Society, a qualified mediator, and student at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.


Kate was always looking for new ways to add to her kete (basket) and her enthusiasm will be sorely missed. We take this opportunity to thank Kate for her commitment to the Law Centre over the years and wish her all the very best in her new role. Thankfully, Kate is still local and only a phone call away.


Mā te kimi ka kite, mā te kite ka mōhio, mā te mōhio ka mārama – seek and discover, discover and know, know and become enlightened


The Ngāi Tahu Māori Law Centre is moving premises! Please note:

  • Our office at Level 1, 258 Stuart Street, Dunedin will be closed indefinitely from Friday 19 March 2021.
  • The Law Centre will be completely shut down from Friday 19 March 2021 until Tuesday 06 April 2021 (after the Easter long weekend).
  • We will be working from home from Tuesday 06 April 2021 until our new premises in Carroll Street is ready. We are hoping to be in our new premises by the end of April.
  • We would prefer if clients can contact us via email during the time we are shut down and working from home.
  • Any mail can be sent to: Ngāi Tahu Māori Law Centre, PO Box 633, Dunedin 9054.

Details of our new premises will be given in due course.

We thank you for your patience and understanding during this time and look forward to seeing you again in our new space! 

Ngā mihi o te tau hou!

The new year has brought with it a new rōia to the Ngāi Tahu Māori Law Centre. A warm welcome to Paul Ellicott. Paul previously worked for 6 years as a General Practice Solicitor and is excited to move into the realm of Māori land law. We are very happy to have him on the team.

We would also like to welcome our new board member, Mihiata Pirini (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Whakatōhea). Mihiata is a lecturer at the University of Otago. She has previously worked at the Law Commission and on Crown Law’s Treaty of Waitangi Team. Paul and Mihiata each bring with them a valuable kete of knowledge and experience that are already benefiting the Ngāi Tahu Māori Law Centre and our community.

Another matter to note is that the Ngāi Tahu Māori Law Centre is changing locations. This means we will be closed as we shift from 22 March to 6 April. Stay tuned, more details will follow!

2020 Annual General Meeting - all welcome!

Kia ora e te whānau,

All are welcome at the Ngāi Tahu Māori Law Centre's 2020 AGM on the 18th November 2020. This will be held at our office; Level 1, 258 Stuart Street.

The agenda will include a review of the AGM minutes from 2019, reports, appointment of 2021 Auditor, the Financial Report, and General Business.

Farewell to Haines

Farewell to Haines

Sadly, the Ngāi Tahu Māori Law Centre has said farewell to Haines after 11 years of sterling service. Haines has a new position with the Ministry of Primary Industries, where he will be working with Māori land owners to help utilise their land. This is somewhat a natural progression from the mahi he did with the Law Centre.

During his time at the Law Centre, Haines assisted many whānau with succession, forming trusts and partitions to help whānau build and live on their land. His whakapapa knowledge is immense and on several occasions whānau were astounded that he had connected them to half of Ngāi Tahu within a short time of meeting them.

Haines’ resignation will leave a huge gap in the operations of the Law Centre. Fortunately, we have a willing and able team who are most capable of providing the high level of service our community has come to expect from the Law Centre.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Haines for his tireless efforts over the years and wish him well with his future career path. We look forward to hearing updates from the other side!

Manaaki whenua, manaaki tangata, haere whakamua – care for the land, care for the people, go forward

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