Wāhine Māia, Wāhine Toa


Every decision Waikato-based law firm McCaw Lewis makes is driven by three core values: Manaakitanga, Kotahitanga and Whāia te iti Kahurangi.

It is through this lens that the firm has fostered a talented, passionate and driven group of female leaders.

Renika Siciliano, of Waikato-Maniapoto descent, took on the role of Executive Director in 2020 and over the past year four other women have been promoted into leadership positions. Laura Monahan and Amanda Hockley stepped up into Directorship, while Kylee Katipo and Jessica Middleton were appointed as Senior Associates.

Nurturing legal talent and leadership is one of Renika’s top priorities. “McCaw Lewis’ biggest strength is its people. We have an incredible team of legal minds and support staff who deserve to work in an environment where their talents can flourish and shine” she said. The importance of wnau and kotahitanga at McCaw Lewis means the leadership team regularly review how the firm is performing from an equality standpoint, and any implications for unconscious bias are challenged.

McCaw Lewis’ whānau-first approach has enabled all staff to seek and establish a healthy balance between mahi and family. This has been especially important for Renika, Laura and Amanda, all of whom have young tamariki. As the mum of two young sons, and leader of the firm’s asset planning practise, Amanda says “It’s hugely rewarding setting an example for my boys of what can be achieved through dedication to something worth fighting for.”

Laura, who co-leads McCaw Lewis’ commercial practise, is passionate about helping her clients with their business goals. “Clients need me to understand the issue or opportunity and provide advice or act for them in a way which will support positive outcomes – essentially it’s seeing problems and opportunities and getting it done” said Laura about her approach to work.

Kylee Katipo (Waikato) works in the areas of Māori land law and Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Her appointment to Senior Associate recognised the growing role she has as a leader in her team and the wider firm. Kylee is currently playing an active role in the Mana Wāhine Inquiry and recently wrote an article discussing how wāhine Māori, through the Inquiry, are reshaping and solidifying the narrative with respect to wāhine Māori, through both a historic and contemporary lens.

The recent promotion of Jessica Middleton to Senior Associate reflects her talent as a lawyer, commitment to her clients, and the important role she plays in the firm’s commercial practise and wider McCaw Lewis wnau. “I’m excited to have an opportunity to further develop those skills, to bring out the best in myself and the people I work with” said Jessica.

To mark International Women’s day, the firm invited wāhine to be supported through a tuakana-teina relationship aimed at continuing to foster the growth and development of their up and coming wāhine.  The firm plans to offer the programme more widely in the future.

“The theme for International Women’s Day 2021 was ‘Choose To Challenge’. As lawyers, we challenge the law, our colleagues and ourselves – and we challenge inequality and gender bias. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements” said Renika.

Founded in 1919, McCaw Lewis has grown to become one of Waikato’s leading law firms, with a team of about 40 staff specialising in commercial, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, property, dispute resolution, asset planning, environmental/natural resources, workplace law and Māori land.


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