It is hard to aspire to be something that you cannot see. With such low rates of representation, pursuing a legal profession is not something many young Māori students could picture themselves aspiring to be.
Data from the 2006 census showed that Māori were estimated to make up just 5.5 percent of all legal professionals; that is, barristers, solicitors, judges, tribunal members and magistrates. The New Zealand Law Society keeps records of the ethnicity of lawyers who choose to disclose that information. Around 62 percent of all lawyers chose to provide their ethnicity and of those, 3.5 percent said that they are Māori.
In this article, author Keely Gage of Victoria University of Wellington explores the underrepresentation of Māori in the legal industry, and how more could be done for Māori interacting with the legal profession, starting with a greater understanding of tikanga Māori in the legal profession.