Pacific Panel Discussions brought to you by AWLA: The Importance of Pacific Representation in Law
Panel Speakers: Judge Moala, Toa Vulangi (Senior Solicitor, Bell Gully), Reina Vaai (Criminal Defence Lawyer, PDS)
Facilitated by: Lanu Faletau (Solicitor, Auckland Council)
The AWLA Pacific panel event has been created by one of our AWLA Committee members, Lanu Faletau, to help negate the stigma surrounding Pacific peoples in New Zealand. The media rhetoric often reports on Pacific over-representation in gangs, being reliant on welfare and constantly in and out of the criminal justice system. With a reported 70% of the prison population being made up by Pacific and Maori, the question that begs to be answered is…why? And how can we break this vicious cycle? There is no doubt that cultural nuances are being recognized within the law when dealing with Pacific and Maori offenders, but with Pacific peoples making up only 15% of New Zealand’s population and yet still over-represented in the prison population; the time is nigh for frank discussions as to why Pacific representation in law matters.
The representation of Pacific law clerks, interns, lawyers and judges provides a narrative on Pacific success, but more importantly, it provides the diversity of perspective that is needed within the law. What you can’t see, you can’t be and this rings true for too many of our Pacific peoples who more likely than not, do not see or feel comfortable in spaces that are predominately male and white.
This panel discussion will seek to hear the unique perspectives of successful Pacific professionals within the legal system, by providing the necessary dialogue into how they came to be who they are, how they got to where they are and why Pacific representation matters to them.