Mauri Tū, Mauri Ora!

This is the whakataukī of the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand which describes it as follows:

 Mauri refers to the life force or latent energy found in all things. Mauri tū refers to stability and a sense of space for this energy, and in this context covers both communities and individuals. Mauri ora refers to the unleashing of this energy to actively support and create wellbeing.

When we speak about health and wellbeing, we often refer to a sense of balance. Sometimes that balance can feel precarious and with a small push, it can be destroyed. There is no stability or sense of space and we need support to regain our sense of wellbeing.

With extremely high rates of depression and substance abuse compared to other professions, it may seem that lawyers are up against the odds. But law is about the long game. To survive the long game, you need a healthy body, mind, home life and practice. It is about ensuring that you have a rewarding career that adds to your life, rather than your life being sucked out of you by your career.

The NZBA recognises that if you are not healthy, you will not be able to practise law well. This will in turn add stress, both physical and mental and create a Catch 22 situation. However there can be a real or imagined sense of stigma about owning up to needing help. As a consequence, it is not always easy to find a starting point.

Recognising this, the NZBA has created this section on its website to offer that starting point. The NZBA does not offer psychological or medical advice. Nor should any of the material be used as a substitute for seeking help from an appropriately qualified professional. We are simply providing members with a portal to start thinking about wellbeing and possible avenues of help.

We also have a Bar Care Panel of highly experienced barristers who are willing to listen and where possible, refer members to appropriately qualified help.

Of course, ideally most of us would hope to avoid a crisis if possible. It is important to look after ourselves so that we can be strong when problems arise (which they will!) and ensure that our body is healthy and not placed under undue stress. We have therefore included material that will give you some ideas of how to look after yourself.

Remember; if you do have physical or mental problems, these are not a sign of weakness. They are a sign of being human. I urge you to seek help and I ask our colleagues to provide support and empathy to those in need, and not judgement.

Good luck and Ngā Mihi,

Kate Davenport QC
President, New Zealand Bar Association.