OWLS 30th Anniversary Gala Dinner and Dance: Friday 14 October 2016

On Friday 14 September 2016 OWLS hosted a special Gala evening to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of OWLS at the Toitū Otago Settlers Museum. The Judiciary, Queens Counsel, Life Members, past and present members, the Law Faculty, and the local profession all attended in large numbers (133 in total), much to our delight, to help OWLS celebrate in style.

At the start of the evening, guests were welcomed with canapés and a Jazz Band, which was followed by a delicious meal and dessert bar provided by BB Catering. Master of ceremonies Anita Chan QC helped the evening run smoothly, and guests were treated to extremely impressive speeches from Sally McMillan, and the Hon. Dame Silvia Cartwright. Sally shared some of the history of OWLS and played excerpts from the oral histories of Life Members Marion Thomson and Margaret MacKay, which was particularly special. She also wove Ethel Benjamin’s journey into a rather inspiring fairy-tale. Dame Silvia gave an engaging speech about her experiences as Governor-General and the various hats she wore in that role! It turns out she should be a stand up comedian!

Our Convenor, Kim Jarvis, presented owl brooches to three Life Members, the Hon. Dame Silvia Cartwright, Judge Annis Somerville, and Judge Rosemary Riddell, after it had been discovered that the tradition of giving such brooches to life members did not begin until after their appointments, thus they had previously missed out!

The formalities of the evening were concluded by cutting a stunning cake in the shape of a law report, which was made by the Slice of Heaven Cake Company and a series of formal photos by photographer Jemma Wells, including members of the first OWLS committee, past convenors, and all past and present OWLS members. Once the formalities had concluded, guests danced the night away to live music from The Plus Ones. The Gala was certainly a night to remember and was enjoyed by all in attendance. We look forward to doing it all again in another 10 years! A big thank you to the extremely hard-working Gala Sub-Committee for pulling it all together in such style!! All photos by our photographer Jemma Wells. Check out more of her work at <http://www.jemmawells.com/>.



University of Otago Women in Law Panel: Monday 26 September 2016

On Monday 26 September 2016 an OWLS panel consisting of Anita Chan QC, Professor Nicola Peart, Rachel Brooking, Stephanie Pettigrew, Kim Jarvis, and Ruth Ballantyne spoke to 50 enthusiastic female law students for the Society of Otago University Law Students’ (SOULS) Wellness Week. The panel spoke about their experiences as female lawyers and academics and discussed things they wish they had known before they started out. This event also doubled as an OWLETS forum, with many in attendance, and other students joining up subsequently. Thank you to Julia Tillett (the SOULS Welfare Representative) for organising this event and to Russell McVeagh for providing the afternoon tea. We hope to have more events like this one in the future as part of the OWLETS programme.


Suffrage Day Breakfast: Friday 23 September 2016

On Friday 23 September 2016 OWLS hosted the annual (and extremely popular) Suffrage Day Breakfast, which was held at Ironic Café. Our guest speaker this year was the fascinating Liz Rowe of the Otago Chocolate Company (Ocho). Liz is an artist and former journalist, turned chocolate maker. She spoke about how her life got side-tracked by making ethical craft bean-to-bar chocolate and her journey along the way. The 25 OWLS in attendance certainly learned a lot about chocolate and I would encourage you all to check out her new shop/cafe at 22 Vogel St, Dunedin or online at <http://ocho.co.nz/>. Thank you to Liz for making the time to speak to us all (especially so early in the morning).


First OWLETS Event: Thursday 25 August 2016

On Thursday 25 August 2016, the OWLS Committee hosted an event at Ombrellos with female law students from the University of Otago Faculty of Law who are interested in being involved in a new student branch of OWLS to be called the OWLETS (the name for a young OWL). One of the Committee’s goals this year was to build a closer relationship with our law students and to encourage more of them to become OWLS members. We intend to run the OWLETS group a bit like the Wise OWLS programme with a few social events alongside several lunchtime forums each year. Interested students will also be able to join OWLS if they wish and attend regular OWLS events. An OWLETS sub-committee has been established made up of six passionate female law students and they will be responsible for liaising with OWLS and administrating a separate OWLETS Facebook page under the guidance of Deputy Convenor Ruth Ballantyne. Based on the impressive number of students in attendance (approximately 35) and their wonderful enthusiasm this initiative has got off to a great start.


Wise OWLS Birthday Drinks: Thursday 18 August 2016

On Thursday 18 August 2016, OWLS hosted Wise OWLS Birthday Drinks at Ombrellos to celebrate the Wise OWLS programme being up and running for two years. There were 20 OWLS and Wise OWLS present and everyone enjoyed the tasty drinks and nibbles in a nice relaxed atmosphere. We have also increased our number of Wise OWLS with Debbie Ericsson joining the ranks. Thank you to everyone who made the evening such a success and to our Wise OWLS for sharing their wisdom with us all. We look forward to some more Wise OWLS lunchtime forums next year.


20th Annual New Zealand Law Foundation Ethel Benjamin Commemorative Address: Thursday 14 July 2016

The Hon. Marcia Neave AO the Former Chair of the Royal Commission into Family Violence and Former Justice of the Court of Appeal, Supreme Court of Victoria presented the 20th Annual New Zealand Law Foundation Ethel Benjamin Commemorative Address at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery on Thursday 14 July 2016. The Address was entitled “The Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence – Responding to an Entrenched Social Problem”. Ms Neave spoke eloquently about the serious family violence problem in

Ms Neave spoke eloquently about the serious family violence problem in Australia, and explained how the Royal Commission undertook the consultation process. There was a focus on all kinds of family violence and the development of a 10-year bi-partisan plan to affect change via 227 individual recommendations to help those affected by family violence.

The topic of the Address was very timely, particularly considering New Zealand’s severe family violence problems, and provided a great deal of inspiration about what New Zealand could be doing better. The Address was extremely well attended by approximately 100 guests and OWLS were pleased to host another successful event with the help of our generous sponsors the New Zealand Law Foundation, the University of Otago Law Faculty, and the Williams Trust. The Address is available on the OWLS website and the DVD recording is available to watch on the New Zealand Law Foundation website <http://www.lawfoundation.org.nz/> for those who missed out. The Address will also be published in an upcoming issue of the Otago Law Review.



Mid-Winter Christmas Party: Thursday 7 July 2017

On Thursday 7 July 2016, approximately 20 OWLS members enjoyed the now annual Mid-Winter Christmas Party at Vault 21 in the Octagon. The evening began with drinks and delicious, albeit tricky to eat, nibbles and concluded with a sit-down dinner for those who could stay on. Based on the intensity of the conversation and the laughter (at least from our end of the table!) everyone enjoyed catching up and celebrating the halfway point of the OWLS year in style!


An Evening with Professor Barbara Brookes: Thursday 16 June 2016

Professor Barbara Brookes from the University of Otago History Department spoke to a small but enthusiastic group of 15 OWLS on Thursday 16 June 2016 at the NZLS Branch Meeting Room. Her fascinating talk about “Past Injustices: History, Women, and the Law” was based on research from her new book A History of New Zealand Women and was extremely relevant to OWLS members. Those lucky enough to be in attendance were treated to an engaging, and at times, very entertaining talk showing how far women in New Zealand have come, and how much further we still have to go. Professor Brookes was a stellar presenter and we are grateful she gave up her time to speak with us. A very enjoyable evening all round!


Pink Ribbon Morning Tea: Friday 6 May 2016

On Friday 6 May at 10.30 OWLS hosted our annual Pink Ribbon Morning Tea at Anderson Lloyd, which is always a very enjoyable and popular event. It was fantastic to see such so many (predominately-pink-clothes-wearing) OWLS there with around 30 members in attendance. Everyone enjoyed the baked goods on offer and, most importantly, we managed to raise nearly $400 for the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation, which is such an important cause and one that is dear to all of our hearts as women. Thank you to everyone who donated money, and to those who provided the extremely delicious morning tea, as well as to Anderson Lloyd for letting us host the event in their Boardroom. We look forward to hosting this event again next year.