On the night of Thursday 13th May, 12 student law mooters battled it out at the Māori Issues Moots Competition. Spread across three rooms, mooters fought a mock court battle about iwi water rights and the detrimental effects of greenhouse gases on our taonga tuku iho, the land.
The night culminated in first place being given to Rangi Cowley, second place going to Sophie Vreeburg and third to Bronson Burgess.
‘Representing’ Ngāi Tahu Iwi and a fictional dairy farming company, Rangi and other law students had to sway their judges with their arguments. Invited guest judges included University of Auckland Law alumni, practising lawyers, and distinguished judges Tavake Afeaki, John Kahukiwa, Jarrod Griffin, Ben Kirkpatrick and Cameron Jacob-Sauer. Its relaxed moot environment is usually very intimate with a small number of whānau and students present.
Maori mooting involves issues pertaining to Māori; it does not mean it’s reserved for just Māori. Though it did include Māori law students, it was full of future tauiwi lawyers who wanted to broaden their cultural competency capacities. Mooters said they signed up for the moots as they believed the issues presented were very active and relevant. The night saw law used in a way to empower Māori issues, giving hope to the future generation of lawyers who are equity-based and culturally-informed.
It is traditional to have moots in both English and Te Reo Māori, but the modest turnout meant that this was not possible this year. The University of Auckland and Te Rākau Ture, the Māori Student Law Association has a history of competent Māori mooters and has had many winners who have gone on to become notable litigators and attorneys.
Winners will go to Te Hunga Rōia Hui-ā-Tau, the Māori Law Societies’ annual gathering, to represent the University. Te Hui-ā-Tau is the largest gathering of Māori lawyers and is a three-day conference full of speeches from inspirational Te Hunga Rōia associates like Justice Joe Williams and Annette Sykes.
The University of Auckland has had notable success in the Te Hunga Rōia Māori moots and Cowley hopes to continue this legacy. Kia kaha Rangi, kia tū maia!