Maori Lawyer wins Prestigious Scholarships to Harvard

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Natalie Coates (Ngati Awa, Te Arawa, Tuhoe, Ngati Hine) has been awarded two prestigious scholarships to attend Harvard to complete a Masters of Laws (LLM).

Nga Pae o te Maramatanga Fulbright Graduate Award.

On the 29th of June Natalie was awarded the Nga Pae o te Maramatanga Fulbright Graduate Award. It is the second time it has been awarded. Attached to this email is a Media Fact Sheet about the Fulbright Award.

In regard to the particular award received: The Fulbright-Ng? Pae o te M?ramatanga Graduate Award is for a promising New Zealand graduate student to undertake postgraduate study or research in the US in a field of indigenous development.

The Fulbright-Nga Pae o te Maramatanga Graduate Award is sponsored byNga Pae o te Maramatanga(New Zealand’s M?ori Centre of Research Excellence) and is granted for advanced academic study in the US. One highly prestigious and competitive award is offered each year to a graduate student whose area of study or research fits within one of Nga Pae o te Maramatanga’sresearch themes. Applicants must also show academic excellence, leadership potential and the ability to be a cultural ambassador for New Zealand.

Ethel Benjamin Scholarship

Natalie has also been awarded the New Zealand Law Foundation Ethel Benjamin Scholarship. There are usually only one or two of these scholarships are awarded every year. However, this year three were awarded.

The New Zealand law society established the scholarship to commemorate Ethel Benjamin the first woman barrister and solicitor in New Zealand. It is awarded each year to outstanding woman scholars to support post-graduate research in law that encompasses the foundations wider objectives, in particular research that will protect and promote the interests of the public in relation to legal matters in New Zealand. Most year only two scholarships are awarded.

Personal Information

  • Currently working at Aurere Law (in Rotorua). But leave in about 3 weeks (the end of July).
  • Grew up in the small Maori community of TeTeko. Went to the small, all Maori primary school called Te Kura Reo Rua o Teteko.
  • Studied at the University of Otago. Spent 6 years down there. In December 2009 became one of the only students to have ever graduated from the University of Otago with two first class honours degrees in Law and Arts (majoring in Maori Studies).
  • After graduating went on an O.E for a year (2010). Went to South East Asia, got to go to a training program on indigenous rights. It was for indigenous activists and I got to meet all these amazing people whose peoples have been subject to great human rights violations. Some had relatives killed for simply protesting the building of dams that affected their livelihood. They were amazing and unbelievably courageous.
  • Then went to London where I volunteered at an organisation called Survival International. That worked with tribal and indigenous peoples. An example: they worked on campaigns for the rights of the bushmen of the Kalahari desert, in Botswana, to water.
  • Am currently working at a Maori law firm called Aurere Law in Rotorua. Also working as a research assistant at Victoria University helping on the Maori Legal Project (the creation of a Maori Legal Dictionary).
  • Applied to do a masters of Law at: Harvard, Columbia University, New York University and the University of Arizona. All are different, but have strong indigenous or human rights programs. Lucky enough to get accepted into all of the Universities I applied for.
  • Chose Harvard because of its reputation and because it is known as one of the best Universities in the world. They have amazing resources, professors and I would be learning alongside some of the brightest and accomplished students on the planet. Although its intimidating its really exciting. I applied on a whim not thinking I would get in and got a huge shock when I found I was accepted.
  • Plan on undertaking a transdisciplinary Master of Laws that combines Human Rights and Indigenous law papers, practical clinical work and individual research. I wish to learn not only how to protect indigenous rights in an international and domestic context, but also how to use the law as a vehicle for social change to secure these rights and advance the Indigenous cause.
  • Look forward to meeting a bunch of intellectual people from all around the world and engaging intellectually in a different academic context. I believe this sort of knowledge exchange and acquisition can only but facilitate constructive and positive change. I hope to acquire a more global perspective and international knowledge and experiences that I can bring back to my turangawaewae (standing place), Aotearoa, New Zealand.
  • Extremely expensive need about $90,000. I have received some financial aid from Harvard and am extremely grateful that I received these scholarships (Fulbright and Ethel Benjamin). Also been fortunate to receive money from some Maori Trusts and my iwi.

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