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University of Waikato, Faculty of Law – December 2012


University of Waikato, Faculty of Law – December 2012

By Karen Son

On December 19, 2012, University of Waikato’s Dean of the Faculty of Law visited BYUH. At the invitation of the Political Science Department, Career Services, and Pacific Island Studies, Professor Bradford W. Morse met with students and faculty in the Little Theater to explain and answer questions about law school, offering a detailed and fascinating look at the options provided by law in general and the University of Waikato specifically. Even through Professor Morse’s visit occurring during the Christmas break, over 45 students and faculty gathered to hear Professor Morse’s remarks. Students interested in law degree options in the South Pacific were particularly well represented. William Numanga introduced Professor Morse, highlighting his service as a legal advisor to many First Nations in Canada as well as national and regional aboriginal organizations. Since 1974 Professor Morse has been heavily involved in a broad range of constitutional, land claim, governance, economic, and treaty issues. He also previously advised the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians during the development of the Canadian Constitution Act 1982. He has also consulted various royal commissions, government departments, and indigenous peoples’ organizations in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Professor Morse began by introducing the University of Waikato. The university, which was originally named ‘Te Whare Wananga o Waikato’ in Maori, is located in the city of Hamilton, New Zealand, with a satellite campus in Tauranga. Established in 1964, it has grown to more than 12,000 students of which 17% hail from over 70 different countries. Waikato offers a wide range of degrees. One of Waikato’s most well-known programs is the law school. The Faculty of Law was founded in 1990 with a unique vision that emphasizes Maori culture and traditional law. In 2010, while celebrating its 20th anniversary, the law school adopted a new name, Te Piringa – Faculty of Law. The new name translates to mean a “coming together” of different peoples and reflects the bicultural educational approach embraced at Waikato. To emphasize the role of the school in teaching Maori law, the Te Piringa – Faculty of Law strongly recruit Maoris and have built a school environment that represents both western law and Maori traditional law. Particular strengths that distinguish Te Piringa – Faculty of Law include environment and resource law, Maori and Indigenous rights, constitutional law, and international law. Waikato’s Te Piringa – Faculty of Law is also unique in its approach to education, adopting three specific goals in its curriculum. First, the program teaches that laws are not just rules. Only 1% of the cases go to trial. Most work that lawyers do involves helping people solve problems. Rather than teaching students that laws are simple rules, the School teaches students how to resolve disputes and hence avoid costly court proceedings. Secondly, Te Piringa – Faculty of Law teaches that the law is a way for societies to achieve and impact higher goals, such as liberty, freedom, economic stability, political stability, and moral values. Finally, , the program heavily capitalizes on the bicultural nature of New Zealand by representing Maori culture and traditional legal systems, capturing significant truths that have been lost from the western tradition. Concluding his introduction of the Te Piringa program, Professor Morse opened the time for audience questions. The following is a short summary of the questions and answers provided: Student: What financial options are available for international students? Professor Morse responded with a explanation about various scholarship opportunities. He mentioned that the government of Samoa funds students, that New Zealand helps students from Oceania, and that the University of Waikato spends $6.5 million a year on student scholarships. In addition, various other programs aid students to help them academically succeed. Since international tuition is higher, international students also should seek for scholarship opportunities that the school provides. The University of Waikato has also set up scholarships available to any new international students enrolling in a full-time undergraduate program. Dr. Murdock: What does the future look like for law school graduates? Is the field of law expanding? If so where? Where do University of Waikato law students go after graduation? Students should consider where they want to work, and what kind of law they are interested in practicing. The places they work will be determined by their interests. As many of Pacific Islands countries need more lawyers – since students studying in law schools abroad often do not go back to their home countries to practice law – students from the Pacific Islands have great opportunities in their home countries. The number of international disputes related to trade issues and climate change that affects fisheries is growing, providing an enormous opportunity for those in the legal profession. These and other issues create a high demand for lawyers in Pacific Island countries. Students from the University of Waikato go all over the world to find different opportunities. Dr. Smith: What qualities do you see as necessary to make a successful lawyer? Most important, they need to have a desire to help or serve. Their desire should not focus on making money, but on serving people. This matters because clients live with the results, and they come to lawyers seeking help. Successful lawyers also need to be able to critically assess information. Skills that political science students learn are critical to studying the law. Political science students read a lot and know how to analyze. Lastly, another critical element to have is modesty. Lawyers obviously need confidence, yet also need to be modest if they are to help the client. To be a successful lawyer, it is necessary to be prepared to work with and seek help from other lawyers. That necessitates a modest approach. You must cooperate with them because you will need their help. Tevita: How is Maori culture emphasized within the Waikato program? Lots of indigenous peoples have common backgrounds. Europe’s traditional knowledge has largely been lost whereas New Zealand and the Pacific Islands have preserved it until today. During the 1970’s interest in indigenous people and culture began to spread throughout the entire Pacific region. In New Zealand 15% of the people are Maori and Maori is still recognized today as one of the official languages of the country. The values of the Maori people are still very much alive. The Waikato program tries to showcase Maori values within the legal systems. The curriculum was established to reflect both western and Maori culture and legal systems. This is why the name “Te Piringa” was joined to the name of the program. It emphasizes the bicultural environment and characteristics of our law school. Other schools have also shown interest in indigenous cultures and legal systems, including the University of Arizona and the University of Victoria in British Columbia.