Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Top New Zealand judges and lawyers self-fund trip to Samoa to provide legal training

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
Marie Dhyrberg KC Source – Auckland University
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Anauli Karima Fai'ai | Reporter/Director

A New Zealand delegation of judges and senior lawyers is in Samoa this week to run a two-day workshop on jury trials.

The group is treating the workshop as an opportunity to give back to the legal community, paying for the entire trip out of their own pockets.

Top New Zealand defence lawyer, Marie Dyhrberg KC, who is leading the group, says the workshop is also run regularly in Manukau, attracting lawyers from both defence and prosecutions.

 “What we’re wanting to do is to be able to demonstrate and give our learnings to people over the two days,” she says. 

“Like how you can improve and be a better advocate, how you should be approaching cases and what we have learned through the years – often through mistakes and error. These are the dos, and these are the don’ts, and this is how you can become a better advocate.”

This is the second time the workshop has been run in the Pacific Islands, with the first being held in Vanuatu in 2019.

“They just were so thrilled and said, ‘This is what we need. We just don’t have that opportunity of observing or hearing from people’,” Dhyrberg says.

“We did a full-day workshop, and they came back and wanted us to do it for two days, and it was covid that interrupted us. We were all set to go back again.”

Marie Dhyrberg KC (second from right) in Samoa this week Source – Eyespy Radio Samoa

The defence bar in Samoa currently receives little funding to develop their trial litigation skills. This contrasts with the prosecution service, which receives ongoing training from New Zealand Crown counsels.

“There is a gap in their education in terms of advocacy and court work.”

“They will see us as bringing something that they don’t have at the moment, but that will very much enhance the education and skills of Samoan lawyers.”

Participants will learn the tricks of the trade from the New Zealand defence team and take part in several cross-examination exercises where they will receive feedback.

“They will all be very nervous, but they get to demonstrate as well, and we critique and say, ‘good, but this is how you can do better, so it’s very much an interactive way of learning.” 

Dhyrberg says that it is vital that a defence bar in any jurisdiction is as strong as prosecutions so that they can get the best possible outcomes for their clients.

“It is the right of anybody charged with charges that they have a robust and thorough defence to those charges because that’s their right.”

“You’ve got to be really committed. If it’s not [in your heart] and you are not prepared to work really hard all times of the day and night, then you are just going through the motions – you are in the wrong game.”



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