This article was first published by Te Hiku Media. It has been republished with permission.
155 Community Law is an extension of the 155 community outreach centre and has opened their new centre in the heart of the legal business district in Whangārei.
Chief Executive Officer Liz Cassidy-Nelson says community law is about ensuring whānau [families] know their rights.
“There are so many people without information about the process and when they appear in court they simply don’t know their rights,” Cassidy-Nelson said.
“Community law is about having access to justice and is absolutely necessary, that’s the sad side of community law but our job is about resilience and hope.”
Practice Manager Sarah Barnaart comes from a background in Crown prosecutions and has always wanted to come back to community law.
“The courts are finding a lot of people going into the courts without representation or knowing what the process is about,” Barnaart said.
“Our hope is to provide greater access to people so they can participate in a meaningful way.”
Legal Executive Makoare Hoterene worked in the Otangārei community and says the service is very much needed.
“We’ve had a lot of people coming in already enquiring about our services which shows the demand especially in the centre of town.”
The service is free and 155 are currently looking to expand their legal services into the Kaikohe region in the near future.