Tawhiwhi Watson (Ngāti Kahungunu ki Heretaunga and Ngāti Tūwharetoa), Otago Law student and Te Roopū Whāi Pūtake member, has been presented with He Taunaha mo Gina Rudland (The Gina Rudland Cup) for winningthe National Māori Moot Competition.
Mooting is an important part of studying law, it’s essentially a mock trial where two sides argue a point of law in front of an acting judge or judges, who decide a winner.
The competition was held on the first night of the Māori Law Society conference, at Waikato University earlier this month.
Tawhiwhi mooted alongside five Māori law students from the five other New Zealand law schools, in front of a very eminent bench; Justice Joe Williams, Judge Rachel Mullins, Justice Cooper of the Court of Appeal and newly-sworn-in Chief Judge Caren Fox of the Māori Land Court.
In awarding him best mooter, the panel noted that he argued very persuasively for the Crown, and on a set of facts which seemed strongly against the Crown.
Tawhiwhi says it is important to mihi members of Te Kaupeka Tātai Ture Faculty of Law Jacinta Ruru and Mihiata Pirini and his father Leo, as “they all gave up time to allow me to come, discuss my submissions and throw numerous ideas at them.”
“It was these sessions that helped me to present with a sense of confidence. To be able to discuss the constitutional importance of Te Tiriti and its place alongside primary law with such a bench is an experience I am honoured to have had and a thrill I hope to have again,” Tawhiwhi says.
Ka nui ngā mihi ki a ia, big congratulations to him.