I’m a big believer in surrounding your self with good people as their attitudes, outlook on life and way of thinking does influence you. This probably explains why this girl is so damn amazing since we have been friends for 10+ years. Seriously though, this girl is one of my favourite people in this world. I asked her to write a little something for me about how cool she is and being her she couldn’t so another friend has put this piece together for mw to share. Clearly a lot of people think highly of her and it’s not hard to see why.
Lee is a young change-maker: criminal lawyer, legal academic, social justice activist, lifelong student and (more recently) teacher of te reo Māori, and most importantly, ringawera (dish-washer) back home on the marae.
Proudly of Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Whātua, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, and Ngāti Rereahu descent, Lee’s inspiration for pursuing a career in the law came from spending her childhood sitting at the ankles of her koro on the marae and listening to discussions about the challenges and opportunities faced by her whānau and marae communities.
Dial forward twenty years, an undergraduate conjoint degree and Masters degree with Honours, a stint working in community law, a few good protests, countless hui on kaupapa Māori, land, and criminal justice issues, and now Lee is a criminal lawyer working in South Auckland. Here she experiences first hand the challenges faced by Māori going through the criminal justice system. Lee is passionate about transferring her advocacy skills to help reimagine how the system can better respond to the communities it serves.
And although she is a trailblazer in her professional world, Lee still feels most at home out the back on the marae – teatowel in hand. She owes much of her good sense of dress to Maia & Marley who have promised her a line of professional pieces in future.