The editor of our sister publication NZ Lawyer, Andrea Ruffell, has been frequenting the IBA conference in Auckland. Here, she offers an insider’s view of the conference for those of us who didn’t make it.
Having battled through a vile but typical Auckland morning of pouring rain and traffic jams, my first stop at the IBA conference was a session entitled ‘Sex, stars, royals and the media’.
The first part of the session promised a debate on the proposition: ‘This house believes that the private lives of public figures are of supreme indifference to the public’. Curious to discover whether public figures do have a right to privacy, I arrived to find that ‘cheeky whitie’ TV host Paul Holmes — who recently faced some criticism having publicly referred to a Maori person as a “cheeky darkie” — galloping around the room at full speed on his hobby-horse.
I then slipped into the room next door in time to catch Judge Joe Williams of the Waitangi Tribunal speaking at the session entitled ‘Treaties’, predicting that the growing Maori population will ultimately lead to an increasing number of Maori MPs governing Maori affairs through that mainstream organ of state — Parliament.
Spread over various disparate venues, the conference reminded me very much of Auckland University in the way it seemed to lack a central hub, although the platters of sausage rolls in the lunch tents drew a few more delegates than the conference sessions.
After happily quaffing a couple of vodka and kiwifruit cocktails at the Yacht Squadron while watching prospective law firm candidates hoping to be selected as the kiwi member of the ius laboris international employment law alliance, I duly arrived at the Middle Earth party.
A couple of thousand delegates were packed into the Britomart centre, pressed hard up against the cheeseboards and one another. Overseas lawyers are no different than their local counterparts, I concluded, in one respect — the bar ran dry an hour before the $100,000 event was scheduled to conclude, thereby discharging numerous delegates back into the rain seeking to quench their thirst amidst Auckland’s seething Tuesday nightlife. No doubt a night they won’t forget in a hurry.