August 08, 2023
Legal aid drought leaves Māori out short
An Auckland barrister and youth advocate says a fall in the number of lawyers willing to do legal aid is affecting the treatment Māori are getting in the courts.
Renee Karena says while just over 17 percent of New Zealanders identify as Māori, 52 percent of people in prison are Māori.
She says lawyers are already overloaded with cases, and many are opting to stick with the higher fees they can get from private clients.
“If we’ve got this emphasis nowadays which we do of looking after your hauora, looking after your mental health, why wouldn’t you select the work that is going to enhance your work-life balance. So it is absolutely a tough one,” she says.
Ms Karena says while many younger lawyers may be willing to take on legal aid clients, they need help and guidance from senior practitioners.