Julia Whaipooti


"Young people are our leaders of tomorrow and JustSpeak is a waka that helps us shape our tomorrow by asking for change – for Maori communities, the law itself is a barrier."

Julia Whaipooti is a Wellingtonian social justice warrior who wants to reshape the ‘pale, male, stale’ world of law. Julia channels this passion in her role as the chair of JustSpeak. She sees many of the issues in our criminal justice system as a reflection of social justice failures in broader society and believes young people deserve a voice in the criminal justice conversation and strives to make those voices heard.

Julia has been involved in the Community Law movement for 7 years as a volunteer, advocate, lawyer and up until most recently as the Kaitakawaenga/National Maori Coordinator at the Community Law Centres of Aotearoa.

Key steps in the journey

Julia is of Ngati Porou decent, and grew up on the East Coast. She remembers working at a local supermarket for the last three years of school and on her last day, a lady, one of her regular customers came through and asked her what she was up to. The lady gave Julia her card, who happened to be the practicing manager at the biggest law firm in town, and said to give her a call.

Working as a gofer at the law firm, Julia decided to go to University and study Law. It was at university that she noticed she was a minority among a sea of “male, stale and pale” law students.

“There were times sitting in criminal justice classes where Māori overrepresentation was the talking point. It felt like I was being spoken about, and I wanted to know why public perceptions, statistics, media painted Māori in a negative way when I found myself surrounded by heaps of awesome Māori.

After Uni, Julia started volunteering at the Community Law Centre while at law school and before long, she landed a job there. She then went on to become the Chair of JustSpeak, a network of young people speaking up for a more fair and just Aotearoa New Zealand.