Trade policy & negotiations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
“Studying law not only widens your personal and professional toolkit, it also presents a number of opportunities for you to gain new experience.”
What did you study and where?
I studied at the University of Auckland between 2014 and 2018. I studied a conjoint, Bachelor of Arts double majoring in Sociology and (then) Media, Film and Television; and a Bachelor of Laws.
What is your ethnicity?
I am a Cook Islander, born in Rarotonga.
Why did you decide to study law?
Rules, institutions and law-making always fascinated me as a teenager. I had a keen interest in society, government and those who make and enforce ‘rules’. I pursued law to further that interest, and also to get closer to the rule-making and rule-enforcing bodies in New Zealand.
While legal practice still interests me today, ultimately international law and public policy piqued my interest. My legal studies continue to inform the way I see New Zealand’s law and policy implemented in the global context.
Where do you currently work and what kinds of work do you do?
I work in the Trade Negotiations Division (TND) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Manatū Aorere. I coordinate the implementation of a number of free trade agreements.
We open up market opportunities, streamline processes, reduce costs, and create more certainty and security for New Zealand business and enterprise doing work overseas. This involves coordinating work across the government, collaborating with our international counterparts, and building on the agreements New Zealand has in force.
What do you like about your work?
Two things really stand out to me when I think about my work in TND.
First, trade policy and trade negotiations is an area you’ll never encounter unless you work in it. Law school and clerkships would occasionally mention things like tariffs, the World Trade Organisation or treaties but you’d never how they worked and why they were important. In fact, you didn’t even know where to go for more information beyond a Google search. Working in TND has been a real eye-opener. Every day is a crash course in trade, economics and even foreign policy. Likewise, every day also shows how my education and prior experience prepared me for working in TND.
Second, I’ve interacted with so many different countries and economies in my work. Despite the travel interruptions caused by COVID-19, I’ve had so many opportunities to work with many of our international counterparts. Trade has historically brought distant countries and economies together, and the same can be said for today.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I am an avid hiker, regularly spending my time in the forest, mountains or coasts. In addition, I run a small side gig detailing mid- and high-end cars.
What advice would you give to those considering studies in law?
Think much more broadly than you’re used to! Studying law not only widens your personal and professional toolkit, it also presents a number of opportunities for you to gain new experience. You should treat your law courses, law association events, competitions and even work experience as opportunities to try new things and pursue new ventures. As my dad would remind me every week, “put your name down”.