The DLANZ was formed in 2020 by founders Christopher Stevenson and Elizabeth Hall, with the assistance of the steering committee, to fill a gap in the New Zealand legal landscape. Until the DLANZ was formed there was no group that was dedicated solely to defence practitioners and the work that they do. Given the challenging and unique nature of criminal defence work, the DLANZ was formed to ensure there is a focused group to support, inspire, educate and contribute to law reform.
In October 2020 Supreme Court Justice Joe Williams gifted DLANZ the name – Te Matakahi. The whakataukī is: Iti te matakahi ka pakaru I a ia te tōtara. (The wedge may be small, but it will split the tōtara.
Te Matakahi recognises New Zealand’s criminal justice system disproportionately impacts Māori at all points of the process. The DLANZ acknowledges te Tiriti o Waitangi and the work of the DLANZ will also be guided by the Māori worldview, both through our members and through expert advice.
On 26 October 2020 Te Matakahi formally became an affiliate member of the NACDL, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the equivalent national association in the United States of America. We are delighted to announce this affiliation – which strengthens the support NACDL has shown informally to our members for many years.
The 2020 founding steering committee members included: Christopher Stevenson (Co-chair), Elizabeth Hall (Co-chair), Emily Blincoe (Secretary/Treasurer), Judith Ablett Kerr ONZM QC, Robert Lithgow QC, Jonathan, Eaton QC, Marie Dyhrberg QC, Ron Mansfield, Nick Chisnall, Echo Haronga, Rob Stevens (PDS), Ngaroma Tahana, Debbie Goodlet, Julia Spelman and Kerry Cook.