Tikipunga High alum wins top legal prize

16:00, Jan 21 2013
Emily Henderson
FIRST TIME: In a first for women and law practitioners, former Whangarei Crown prosecutor Emily Henderson has won the most prestigious law research prize in New Zealand.

Who ever said women have to choose between having a thriving career and being stay-at-home mums?

Emily Henderson has won the most prestigious law research prize in New Zealand after being a hands-on mother for her four children.

The "Tikipunga High girl" is the first woman recipient of the New Zealand Law Foundation international research fellowship in the 10 years it has been running.

Valued at up to $125,000, it is awarded annually to enable a person of outstanding ability to undertake legal research that will make a significant contribution to New Zealand.

Dr Henderson says this is "dream come true material".

"I'm not your typical academic, I've always maintained that my primary role is a practitioner in the courts and a mum.


"For the last 12 years I've worked part-time researching and as a lawyer because I've spent so much time with my children."

She says the unexpected award recognises that being a mother does not prevent you from achieving your dreams professionally.

"What I'm thrilled about is knowing you can take 10 years out of your life and you can still come back and people will still recognise your ability."

The former Whangarei Crown prosecutor will study the reform of cross-examination based on an analysis of its fundamental purpose within a fair criminal trial.

With both parents heavily involved in the legal system, she says she was aware of court injustices from an early age.

"In the last 30 years a powerful case has been made that conventional cross-examination in criminal trials is a poor means of testing the accuracy, veracity and completeness of vulnerable witnesses' evidence and has an unduly detrimental effect upon them."

Dr Henderson will travel to England for six months later this year to study its various reform methods.

She is hoping to complete the project in one year.

Whangarei Leader