OWLS Meet the 2017 Committee Drinks: Wednesday 12 April 2017

The OWLS Meet the Committee Drinks at Carousel on Wednesday 12 April was a wonderful evening and a great chance for OWLS and prospective OWLS to get together and have a drink and nibble.  Thank you to so many of you for coming out on what was a rather wet evening!  The OWLS Committee is looking forward to bringing you another year of entertaining, thought provoking and worthy events.


OWLS 2017 AGM: Tuesday 28 February 2017

The OWLS Annual General Meeting was held at Ombrellos Bar and Restaurant on Tuesday 28 February 2017.  Many OWLS members turned out in support of the meeting and mingled over drinks prior to the meeting starting.

The AGM began with the 2017 Committee being established.  Once again we have a full OWLS Committee with a number of changes taking place.  Kim Jarvis stepped down as convener with Ruth Ballantyne taking her place.  Kim’s leadership, support and commitment to the role has been invaluable.  Shayne Milne has stepped into the role of deputy-convenor.  We have four new members, Becky Ensor, Emma Bourke, Shaan Ross and Megan Exton.  We are thrilled to welcome Megan on board who is OWLS’ first law student representative, a role which we hope will strengthen ties between OWLS and the female law students studying at the university.  Sarah Eckhoff, Anne McLeod, Lenore Brady and Louise Trevena-Downing have all stepped off the committee and we thank them immensely for their service and contributions over the years.

As well as general business matters, discussions were also held regarding the ongoing archiving/history project and the Marion Thompson Trust.

At the conclusion of the meeting OWLS members were fortunate enough to listen to a captivating presentation given by Professor Jacinta Ruru on her path to law and her role as the new co-director of Nga Pae o te Maramatanga, New Zealand’s Māori Centre of Research Excellence.

Members then stayed on for dinner, making the AGM a successful event for 2017.

Do YOU Want to Join the OWLS Committee?


Are you looking for a new challenge for 2017? New to Dunedin? New to the Profession? Hard working? Have you been on the Committee before?


OWLS is looking for new and experienced practitioners to join the 2017 OWLS Committee. OWLS aims to provide networking and educational events for female practitioners in Otago. The Committee represents the diverse needs of our members and we need your help to achieve this!


Please fill in the following nomination form: OWLS Committee Nomination Form 2017

If you have any questions please email OWLS at members.owls@gmail.com or phone Kim Jarvis on 03 477 8781.

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!