Diversity, Equality and Inclusion: A Pasifika Perspective - With Dr Mele Vaitohi
Episode transcripts were generated using Otter.ai and corrected by ChatGPT, an AI language model. While we strive for accuracy, there may still be occasional errors or inaccuracies. We advise using these transcripts for reference but suggest discretion and professional transcript services for critical or highly accurate documentation.
We use the following prompt for all ChatGPT editing:
You are a senior editor and proof reader. A transcription AI called Otter.ai has generated a transcript of a meeting between two people being Chris Patterson and [guest name]. In the meeting Chris Patterson and [guest name] discuss [topic]. Please correct any spelling or grammatical errors in the set of meeting notes. The corrected meeting notes will be used as an improved transcript of the meeting. Do not make up or generate any text. Rather, correct any errors in a way that most likely is what the two speakers said during the meeting.
Chris Patterson 00:06
Hello and welcome to The Law Down Under Podcast with barrister Chris Patterson. We will provide insights into the law in New Zealand and Australia, its application, and the law's future. Each episode features a new guest who will inspire interest in the law and give you a greater understanding of the legal issues that have helped shape our justice system here down under. We thank you for tuning in and hope you enjoy the podcast. I'm joined today by a very special guest who I'm deeply honored to have with me on the podcast, Dr. Mele Vaitohi, a leading legal scholar on Tongan constitutional law. Dr. Mele has an extensive career in law and governance and serves as the manager of the New Zealand Parliamentary Law and Practice Team. She recently completed a PhD in law at the University of Otago, where she focused on the effects of the 2010 constitutional reform in Tonga. In December 22, Dr. Mele collaboratively published a groundbreaking research report on improving Pacific legal education in Aotearoa. Talofa, Mele. How are you?
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 01:19
Hello, Chris. I'm good, and may I just say that it's been a pleasure to be invited and to be part of your podcast today. So thank you so much for having me.
Chris Patterson 01:33
Thank you. I was so delighted and excited, a little bit nervous, actually, when you agreed to come on the podcast. I read the report and I thought, "This is amazing. We need to talk about this." We need to get you on the podcast if you were prepared to come and sit down and have a good chat about Pacifica, their experience within legal education, and also beyond within the legal profession because this is a topic that needs more discussion. There's so much more to do, and Pacifica people have a real role and place within the profession, but we all need to work together to make that place fully inclusive for them. So thank you for coming on board. What I thought perhaps we could talk about is the report. What led to it? What was the process that was followed? Then maybe we could talk about the findings and the recommendations. I think that's probably the right approach. Are you comfortable if that's how we do this?
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 02:55
Sounds good to me.
Chris Patterson 02:57
Okay. Well, before we do, can you tell us a bit about your background? You're Tongan, and you're in Wellington at Victoria University. What was your journey? What was your pathway?
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 03:15
Yeah, so thank you. My journey actually started in Tonga, where I was born and raised. I went to the University of the South Pacific in Fiji and Vanuatu and did my undergraduate in law.
Chris Patterson 03:33
Now, that's Tonga, not Vanuatu. The main...
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 03:41
Yes, that's in Fiji and Vanuatu.
Chris Patterson 03:46
So, did they not have a campus in Tonga? So you had to...
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 03:50
Yes, when I got my degree, I went to the main campus.
Chris Patterson 04:07
Did you have family members with a connection to the legal profession?
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 04:18
I had one of my great uncles who was a lawyer back in the day. So, growing up hearing stories about him kind of inspired me to follow in his footsteps. So that's how I was exposed to law. After I finished high school, I received scholarships and decided to take up the one that went to Fiji because I thought, you know, I'll be coming back to Tonga to work. So why not go to a law school that would focus on the legal systems in the Pacific? That's what I did. I came back and took up a job as a legal officer with the Ministry of Justice, my first role.
Chris Patterson 05:55
Your role as a newly minted graduate?
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 06:00
Yes, right after my professional studies, I got my diploma, and then I went back to the Ministry of Justice. I worked there and was then seconded to the Crown Law Department, doing some litigation work. I pursued further studies and went to London, where I did my postgraduate in International Public Law, then came back to Tonga, became Crown Law, and later worked with the Ministry of Justice, Public Service Commission, and the Legislative Assembly, Office of the Clerk. I then took up a teaching role at the University of South Pacific Law School in Vanuatu. After spending three years there, I went back to Tonga, returned to the Ministry of Justice as Chief Executive. That was right before I pursued further studies at Otago University, which is how I ended up in New Zealand.
Chris Patterson 07:28
That's a wide breadth of experience across the Public Law sector in Tonga, the UK, and the EU, as well as New Zealand. Another area I noticed is that you're an expert in the constitutional monarchy in Tonga, and you've researched and written papers on how it works. For listeners who may not know, Tonga has a royal family and operates as a constitutional monarchy, similar to England and Wales, with a division between state and the courts. Tonga has a Chief Justice, typically appointed by an Australian or Kiwi. Does that seem to work well, in your perception?
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 08:41
Well, it's interesting that you're saying that, Chris, because that's an area I want to get into in terms of research: judicial diversity, not just in Tonga but also in other parts of the Pacific. You will find that it's a common arrangement where foreign experts and judges are recruited for high court, Supreme Court, and even Court of Appeal positions. It's because of the sizes of these islands, etc. Aside from the perception of the public is really, really important. To get locals into these positions is usually very difficult, and also for the sake of protecting the integrity of justice. They found it more appropriate to get judges from abroad, but I think there's a growing trend now to groom our own homegrown judges. So, it's something I'm interested in looking into, the diversity of the judiciary.
Chris Patterson 10:09
Yeah, look at that. That's a fascinating topic. I think we might need to get you back on the podcast once you've completed your research, because that's a whole episode on its own: judicial diversity and the lack of it. Let's get back to the report. What was the impetus or what kicked it off? What made you and your collaborators, who were involved in it, say, "Hey, this is something we should research?"
Dr. Mele Vaitohi
Well, I think in 2021, the Michael and Suzanne Warren Foundation awarded a grant to Victoria University, under the leadership of Dr. Meegan Wai, who is the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Pacifica at the university. The idea for the project came out of a discussion between her and the dean of law, Professor Mark Hickford. Initially, the project's focus was to evaluate the interventions to support Pacifica achievements in law across New Zealand. Out of that interest, there was a need to explore issues like where Pacifica students fit with equity in Aotearoa law schools and the legal profession, their sense of belonging, power, and authority. So that's how the idea for the project came about. The project's full title was "Equity, Belonging, and Authority: How Can Policy and Practice Support Pacifica in Aotearoa Law." In short, it was called the "Employ Pacifically for Education Project." This project emerged because there was a desire to understand insights and lessons from the experiences of Pacifica people, to improve what law schools and the profession are currently doing to create a legal profession that is more inclusive and reflective of the society it serves.
Chris Patterson 13:24
You're right; this is an area I'm interested in. I read your report and thought it aligns with one of my research interests: socioeconomic diversity within the legal profession. An article by Angela Melville when she was at Flinders Law School about 12 years ago, "Barriers to Entry into Law School: An Examination of Socioeconomic and Indigenous Disadvantage," really opened my eyes and had parallels with what your report found regarding Pacifica experiences. Although both countries have unique issues, it's apparent that marginalized groups, based largely on racial grounds, face unfair treatment and inequities in law schools and the profession. Your report reinforces that there are real barriers preventing Pacifica people from entering law school, succeeding, and staying in the profession.
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 16:50
Yes, the underrepresentation of Pacifica in the legal profession is a significant issue. While Pacifica make up just over 8% of Aotearoa's population, only around 7% of law graduates are Pacifica, and even fewer, about 3%, enter the profession. This imbalance raises concerns about why Pacifica people face challenges in entering law school, succeeding, securing graduate jobs, and remaining in the profession.
Chris Patterson 20:38
Were some participants reporting that they felt pressured to assimilate into a white Eurocentric culture, essentially giving up part of their cultural identity to fit in?
Dr. Mele Vaitohi
Yeah, absolutely. Many participants felt they had to conform and assimilate to be more successful. It's disheartening to hear these stories, and it wasn't limited to specific universities but was a consistent theme around identity. They felt they had to give up some aspect of their identity, which is problematic because they can't bring their whole selves into the profession.
Chris Patterson 23:05
The lack of educational preparedness for Pacifica law students is a deep-rooted and significant barrier. Many Pacifica students face difficult transitions from secondary school to university. They don't start from the same position as others. It's not just an issue when entering law school; it starts well before that in the education system. Students from lower decile schools face more significant challenges compared to those from more affluent schools.
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 25:09
Absolutely. These students come from lower decile schools, which often have fewer resources and face more significant socio-economic challenges. In many cases, students from these schools may find the transition into law school more challenging. Interestingly, even some successful Pacifica lawyers' parents sent them to schools outside their zones to ensure they received a better education. However, this practice can lead to further isolation for students, and the experiences they face at these schools can shape their success or struggle when they reach law school.
Chris Patterson 25:56
Or perhaps we could frame it this way to say that those students who have had secondary education in more affluent schools find the transition into law school less challenging. Yes, yes. When you're talking about lower decile schools, we're really discussing socioeconomics here. We're talking about schools that operate in communities where the income and financial resources available to the families that the school serves are less than in higher decile schools. This is before we even get into the whole topic of private schools. That's what we're addressing, isn't it?
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 26:49
Absolutely. And these words are derived from the participants. When they were sharing their stories, they used this terminology. It was quite challenging to listen to their experiences.
Chris Patterson 27:29
Well, it would be quite disappointing to hear about the challenges that exist, especially within the Pacifica group. We're talking about a lack of privilege, to call a spade a spade. Pacifica students at state schools simply don't have the privileges enjoyed by students at private schools. This might be a shock for some listeners who firmly believe in the meritocracy myth in education and the legal profession. They need to take reality checks and ask themselves a question: If I hadn't been born into a wealthy family that could afford to spend $26,000 of taxpayer dollars every year to send me to an elite school, and if my family and community didn't have connections with the legal profession, would I be where I am today as a partner of a top law firm, a Queen's Counsel, or a judge? Would I have really gotten here if I hadn't been born into that scenario and environment, considering all the privileges and advantages? It's not something earned through hard work. You don't say, "I've worked really hard, and that's why I was born into this wealthy family." It's an unearned privilege, and when we're talking about low socioeconomic backgrounds, we mean families with limited resources. Their children have a different educational experience compared to children from wealthier families. Families can afford to provide their children with a better education. They have a safety net in place. So, when you're at university, you don't have to juggle a service job like waiting tables to make ends meet because your family covers all the expenses. Moreover, when your parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents all graduated with law degrees and achieved success, it instills in your mind that failure is not an option. Therefore, the experience of someone from a lower socioeconomic background through education is vastly different from someone with more resources. What I gathered from your report, without trying to take credit because you authored it, is the concept of cultural capital and social capital. At the heart of your report, I'm interested in starting this discussion, is cultural capital. You have this clash where Pacifica culture intersects with Pākehā culture, and they don't seamlessly coexist. One area your report highlights is the conflict Pacifica people face regarding their priorities and other demands. They've got duties to the family, and their families are a bit wider than the typical nuclear family. They've got their religioues obligations, because for Pacifica peoples, church is very important and you've got to actually invest time and energy into that. And then they've got their wide community obligations. And for a lot of Pacifica students at university, they don't have those conflicts to deal with, they can just focus on their studies and extracurricular activities of having a good time, playing sport or whatever that may be. So that was one of the areas that you found through your discussions with Pacifica students, was that correct?
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 32:19
Yeah, absolutely. So I think you've unpacked a lot there.
Chris Patterson 32:24
I don't want to rush through it all, but there's a lot to discuss.
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 32:28
There's definitely a lot to cover. It was important because one of the main intended outcomes of the report was to shed light on these issues. Non-Pacifica people may not fully understand what it's like to be a Pacifica individual. The report aimed to explain not only through statistics and data but also by presenting the lived experiences of Pacifica individuals. It's essential to recognize that law operates within a social context. Human dignity is a crucial dimension. If we remove human dignity from the equation, what is justice? We need to constantly remind ourselves and question the issues we face. It's easy to prioritize efficiency, but these are people's realities, their lived experiences, and their identities. In law schools and the legal profession, we should welcome diverse perspectives because that's the only way we can raise the bar in protecting human dignity.
Chris Patterson 34:44
Look, you're absolutely right. I mean, what I noticed in your report is that one of the participants described their experience in law school as feeling like a fish out of water. And I suspect they're probably downplaying what their actual experience was. When you read through your report, there's a recurring theme of Pacifica students feeling like they don't fit into law school. It goes beyond just being welcomed; it's about the culture within our universities and law schools that primarily serves one group, which is Pākehā. There's a need for these institutions to be more accepting, adaptable, and to acknowledge that we are a multicultural society. All members should have a place and feel entitled to be there, without feeling like a fish out of water, as your report described. Moving on, because that was the finding of a lack of belonging, another finding in your report pertains to teaching and learning. Participants reported that there was a prevailing traditional learning environment within most law schools, one that didn't support them to succeed and sometimes even oppressed Pacifica students.
Chris Patterson 36:46
You know, there's this weaving theme through it. And that is, there's this fixed way in which each law school education has delivered, and you have to change to fit there, it's not going to change to fit your culture. Is that what you're picking up from what people are reporting to you?
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 37:08
Well, Chris, as you may know, the legal fraternity is a very conservative sphere. And it's very difficult for them to change. We understand that, but I think it was important to put the pen and generate knowledge around the resilience required of our Pacific people to survive law school, as well as the cultural identity that underpins these things. So, definitely, yeah.
Chris Patterson 37:58
And there's quite a difference between surviving law school and succeeding in law school as well. And this is part of the problem that the cultural assurance that Pacifica culture is about being communal, prioritizing the collective over the individual, but our European legal culture, because we've inherited a large part of it from the United Kingdom, is very much a Westernized focus on the individual. And that creates a potential clash. But I'm really interested when you say it's difficult to change their culture. Is one of the difficulties that those who are in control, who are in power of the culture, find it difficult to relinquish power and give a bit up to allow change for a marginalized group to be less marginalized and have more input to be more equitable? Do you think that's where part of the difficulty lies? That there are those within law schools and the legal profession who don't want to let others in, and they have an interest in maintaining these barriers? They're the gatekeepers, as you mentioned.
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 39:37
They're the gatekeepers, and that's the difficulty for them, because what they're actually being asked to do is to be equitable. If we want to have a profession that is inclusive and equitable, they have to do that. They can't just talk about it and say, "Oh, we want to be diverse." And we've appointed all these people. But a large part of it is just talk. What we actually need to see is action. And that needs to be measured somehow. Do you think that it's something that should be done?
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 40:22
I think if I'm to describe the sort of approach that we used in terms of telling the stories, and what we were asking in terms of recommendations, it's about being flexible and creative. We feel that flexibility and creativity are the two main things that would allow others to come through. We need to be welcoming in terms of the environment but also in terms of the content. That's why when we were talking about recommendations, we suggested some changes not only to the pedagogy but also to the curriculum, similar to what they're doing with the incorporation of tikanga for Māori students. Because it's not just for the benefit of Pacifica law students, it's also for the benefit of others, ensuring that all constituents understand the society and the issues that the Aotearoa faces.
Chris Patterson 41:41
Well, it's a benefit for the whole profession and our wider society at large because you need to have diversity. Without getting into more of an evolutionary aspect of it, the success of the human species has been based on diversity. You can't just have one approach and exclude everyone else. By having a diverse profession that is better reflective of our society, which is diverse, then everyone benefits. No one benefits from racism, bullying, or harassment. It's a negative situation. Your report touches on some terrible experiences that Pacifica have had. Both not just students, but also academics, in terms of racism, bullying, and harassment. For that alone, there really needs to be a practical response that addresses these issues because everyone loses from it; there are no winners. It was interesting when I was reading your report as well about the experiences of some academics. There's a real wealth of research overseas on a concept called "academic inbreeding." Have you come across some of this research?
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 44:48
I know that in other disciplines, there has been some research done around that, especially the experiences of Pacifica academics. For example, in health or education. I don't think we have explored that aspect in depth, but it would be a topic of its own for future research.
Chris Patterson 45:26
What you're reporting on the report doesn't expressly deal with the issue of intersectionality. What I mean by that is taking the different areas of inequality into account. For most people, when they think of equality and diversity, it's primarily about gender and race. The report does point out that Pacifica face many disadvantages due to their intersection with other areas of disadvantage, such as socioeconomic factors. I'd love to see someone explore the intersectionality of different areas of inequality. But that's a complex topic, and there's a lot of overseas research on it.
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 47:19
Absolutely. There are other disciplines, especially in health or education, where some research has been conducted on the experiences of Pacifica academics. I don't think we've explored that aspect in depth, but it would be a topic of its own for future research.
Chris Patterson 50:06
That's an important point. It's not just about having a plan; it's about having a plan with measurement and reporting components. This ensures that it's not just aspirational, but it's also a practical tool for promoting diversity, equality, and inclusion. I would love to see all law schools work together to address these issues and coordinate their efforts. The recommendation for pre-law programs is fantastic. It's an essential initiative. We need to level the playing field and give every student an equal shot at success.
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 52:17
Definitely. Pre-law programs are a way to address the existing disparities and create opportunities for underrepresented students.
Chris Patterson 52:27
Absolutely. Now, moving on to the second recommendation for law schools, which is to set aside a percentage of discretionary places for Pacifica students. Can you elaborate on this recommendation?
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 52:41
Certainly. The idea here is to ensure that a specific number of places are reserved for Pacifica students. This allows universities and law schools to take active steps in increasing diversity and representation.
Chris Patterson 53:03
It's a proactive approach to ensure that there are designated opportunities for Pacifica students to pursue legal education. It's an excellent recommendation.
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 53:15
Thank you. The intention is to make the pathway to legal education more accessible and equitable.
Chris Patterson 53:23
Having a clear plan is crucial for tracking progress and making sure that universities and law schools are actively working toward creating a more inclusive environment for Pacifica students.
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 53:35
Exactly. It's about setting clear objectives and holding institutions accountable for their commitments.
Chris Patterson 54:05
The fourth recommendation focuses on appointing Pacifica representatives and advisors within law schools. Can you expand on this recommendation?
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 54:27
This recommendation suggests appointing Pacifica representatives or advisors within law schools to provide guidance and support for Pacifica students. These individuals can help bridge the gap and ensure that the unique needs of Pacifica students are understood and addressed.
Chris Patterson 54:42
This role would be essential in creating a more inclusive and supportive environment for Pacifica students.
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 54:51
Yes, it's about having dedicated support to help Pacifica students navigate their legal education journey.
Chris Patterson 55:00
The fifth recommendation calls for universities to consider a transition year program for Pacifica students. Could you explain this recommendation further?
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 55:14
Certainly. A transition year program is an initiative aimed at helping Pacifica students bridge the gap between their secondary education and law school. It can provide additional support, resources, and a smoother transition into the legal education environment.
Chris Patterson 55:31
It's a practical step to address the challenges and disparities that Pacifica students may face when entering law school.
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 55:40
Exactly. It's about setting them up for success from the beginning.
Chris Patterson 55:45
The final recommendation for law schools suggests incorporating Pacifica cultural competence into the legal curriculum. Can you provide more insights into this recommendation?
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 55:59
This recommendation emphasizes the importance of Pacifica cultural competence as part of the legal curriculum. It's about creating a learning environment that recognizes and values Pacifica culture and perspectives.
Chris Patterson 56:13
Incorporating cultural competence into the curriculum is a way to ensure that all students have a well-rounded education that prepares them to serve a diverse society.
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 56:27
Absolutely. It's about fostering cultural awareness and understanding among future lawyers.
Chris Patterson 56:37
These recommendations for law schools provide a comprehensive framework for promoting diversity, equality, and inclusion. They are essential steps toward addressing the disparities faced by Pacifica students.
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 56:49
These recommendations aim to create a more inclusive and equitable environment for all law students.
Chris Patterson 57:03
Moving on to the recommendations for the legal profession, the first recommendation suggests making the professional legal studies course (PLSC) more accessible and affordable for Pacifica law graduates who want to become lawyers. It's about removing barriers and ensuring that the legal profession is open to a diverse range of individuals.
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 57:20
The cost and accessibility of PLSC can be significant hurdles for aspiring lawyers. This recommendation aims to address those challenges.
Chris Patterson 57:33
Exactly. It's about leveling the playing field and providing equal opportunities.
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 57:44
The second recommendation suggests that the legal profession should increase the number of internships and work placements for Pacifica law students. This recommendation encourages the legal profession to create more internship and work placement opportunities specifically for Pacifica law students. It's a way to provide them with hands-on experience and networking opportunities within the legal field.
Chris Patterson 58:21
Internships and work placements are crucial for gaining practical experience and building connections in the legal profession.
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 58:31
Yes, it's about ensuring that Pacifica law students have access to the same opportunities as other students.
Chris Patterson 58:38
The third recommendation calls for the legal profession to mentor Pacifica law graduates. Can you explain this recommendation further?
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 58:50
This recommendation suggests establishing mentorship programs within the legal profession to support Pacifica law graduates as they transition into their legal careers. Mentors can provide guidance, support, and valuable insights.
Chris Patterson 59:05
Mentorship is a valuable resource for helping young lawyers navigate their careers and build the skills and knowledge necessary for success.
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 59:16
Exactly, mentorship can make a significant difference in the professional development of Pacifica lawyers.
Chris Patterson 59:24
The fourth recommendation focuses on fostering cultural competence within the legal profession. Can you provide more insights into this recommendation?
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 59:36
This recommendation emphasizes the importance of cultural competence and responsiveness within the legal profession. It calls for ongoing training and education to ensure that lawyers are culturally aware and respectful.
Chris Patterson 59:52
Cultural competence is crucial for lawyers to effectively serve diverse clients and communities.
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 1:00:02
Yes, it's about ensuring that the legal profession reflects the diversity of New Zealand society.
Chris Patterson 1:00:12
The fifth recommendation calls for a review of policies and procedures related to bullying and harassment in the legal profession. Can you explain this recommendation further?
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 1:00:26
This recommendation suggests a comprehensive review of policies and procedures related to bullying and harassment within the legal profession. It aims to create a safe and inclusive environment for all lawyers.
Chris Patterson 1:00:39
Addressing issues of bullying and harassment is essential for creating a healthy and respectful workplace.
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 1:00:49
Absolutely, it's about fostering a culture of respect and dignity within the legal profession.
Chris Patterson 1:00:58
The final recommendation for the legal profession calls for the development of a code of conduct focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Can you provide more insights into this recommendation?
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 1:01:13
This recommendation suggests the development of a code of conduct that emphasizes diversity, equity, and inclusion within the legal profession. It sets clear standards and expectations for lawyers.
Chris Patterson 1:01:27
Having a code of conduct that promotes diversity and inclusion can help shape the culture of the legal profession.
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 1:01:38
Yes, it's about creating a framework for accountability and inclusivity.
Chris Patterson 1:01:45
These recommendations for the legal profession aim to make the legal field more diverse, inclusive, and respectful. They are crucial for addressing the disparities and challenges faced by Pacifica law graduates.
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 1:01:59
These recommendations provide a roadmap for creating a more equitable and inclusive legal profession in New Zealand.
Chris Patterson 1:02:10
Thank you, Dr. Vaitohi, for sharing these recommendations and insights from the report. Your work is contributing to a more inclusive and diverse legal community in New Zealand, and it's a vital step towards a fair and equitable society. We appreciate your dedication and commitment to this important cause.
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 1:02:28
Thank you, Chris. We hope that these recommendations lead to meaningful changes in the legal profession and the education system to benefit Pacifica students and the wider community.
Chris Patterson 1:02:39
Absolutely, these recommendations are a significant step in the right direction. We look forward to seeing their impact in the near future.
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 1:02:47
Thank you for your support and for helping raise awareness of these important issues.
Chris Patterson 1:15:56
My pleasure. And look, let's please keep in touch. I'd really like to be able to connect with you again on my research topic, which is socio-economic diversity within the legal profession. I've got a long way to go with it. There's a lot of work to be done. But I do see, you know, that intersection sitting in the arm. It sits in a real proper place center, and it needs some light, illumination shine upon it, you know, shined upon it so that we can help actually work towards a more equitable and fairly diverse profession that properly reflects our society and the people we serve as lawyers.
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 1:16:44
Absolutely. We'll be delighted to help in any way I can. Please, you know where I am.
Chris Patterson 1:16:55
I don't want to track you down. Actually, I think we'd like that article via Angela Melville at University of Otago, and I actually think I'm quite good at tracking people down. It actually took me a couple of months. But to be fair, she left academia and she's gone on to enter into a state agency in Australia where she doesn't want to be found. But again, as I said, I'll have her article on the reading list, as well as I'm also throwing a few of the other academic papers and books on diversity and equality and inclusion that I found really interesting that I've been reading the last few months. So I'll throw them on there. Let's keep in touch. I do have your number, so you will hear from me. Thank you again.
Dr. Mele Vaitohi 1:17:43
Thank you, Chris. Have a nice day.
Chris Patterson 1:17:49
Thank you for tuning in and listening to this episode of The Law Down Under podcast. You're welcome to join in on the discussion via my podcast page, which you can access at patterson.co.nz. That's p-a-t-t-e-r-s-o-n.co.nz. Thanks for supporting the podcast and tune in again for more on the law, its application, and the future of the law here down under.