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International Women's Day 2022

Me aro ki te hā o Hine-ahu-one – Pay heed to the mana of women.

8 March is International Women's Day - a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women's equality.

This week we are profiling five wāhine from the McCaw Lewis team: Kerri Schofield, Olivia Carter, Jessica Middleton, Natalie Whitelock and Kylee Katipo. We have asked them to each choose a charity cause for our firm to support in celebration of International Women's Day. 

Kerri Schofield 

Kerri Schofield is a mum, wife and one of the key women in our property law practice as a Senior Legal Executive.

International Women's Day means a lot to Kerri and highlights the importance of women in her life. “It’s a great day to celebrate wāhine – friends, family, colleagues and myself. I am surrounded my wonderful women in all aspects of my life - let’s celebrate that!"

To mark International Women’s Day, Kerri has chosen to support Anglican Action. This charity, based in the Waikato, offer a range of services including a residential centre for women and children, youth mentoring and support, and supported accommodation for people returning the community upon release from prison. “I selected Anglican Action because I love their mahi with women and their tamariki, providing education, accommodation, and a wide range of support services.”

McCaw Lewis will donate $250 to the work of Anglican Action, supporting their kids first programme which assists māmā and tamariki.

We asked Kerri what she is proudest of. “Being a mum and seeing my two children, Brydon and Brooke, thriving and becoming who they are. I am also proud to be a supportive and loving wife to my husband Lance. And of course, my career. I love my work, I love my colleagues and doing good work for all of our great clients.”

On the role that McCaw Lewis has played for her, she said “They support a healthy work life balance. I work four days a week, so I have a chance to be a Mum and have a career that I love. McCaw Lewis supports equality within the workplace and I’m proud to work for a firm that is so open minded.”

Olivia Carter 

Olivia Carter is part of the management group at McCaw Lewis in her role as ICT Manager. She is also a mum, wife, and survivor of domestic abuse.

Olivia believes that it shouldn’t matter what your gender is, people deserve equal rights, adding: “That’s how McCaw Lewis has made me feel from the start. There’s no “them” and “us” – it doesn’t matter what you do or how high up you are at the firm … you’re treated the same.”

“I didn’t know much about International Women’s Day until now, but it’s so important. It’s rare for me to look back on what I’m proudest of” Olivia says. “But I’m very proud of bringing up my son. I spent eight years as a solo mum after coming out of an abusive relationship with a 6-month-old baby, and I have never fallen back into that life. I’ve created a stable environment for myself and have a wonderful marriage and home life now. My son has grown up to be a great person with a loyal bunch of friends.”

Olivia has also found her stride in her career. “I never did especially well at high school and I didn’t go to uni but I have built up my career based on working hard and taking opportunities to learn. When I came into the legal profession I thought I would be a legal secretary but I found myself wanting to be challenged and learn about the business side of a law firm, and I’ve grown into a management and leadership role that I am very proud of.”

She’s chosen Aoake Te Rā as the charity McCaw Lewis will support, after experiencing the impact that a suicide had on herself and her family. Aoake Te Rā coordinates counselling sessions for survivors of suicide. Olivia said: “The grief following a suicide is very different and I’d love people to know that there is help available.”

Learn more about Aoake Te Rā here:

Jessica Middleton

Jessica Middleton is a very proud cat mum to Fred the Birman, and is passionate about women’s access to services supporting endometriosis. She is also a Senior Associate and key member in our commercial law practice.

Her hopes for International Women's Day highlight a women’s right to her own destiny. “I hope that we would all be empowered and free to live our best, happiest and most fulfilled lives – whatever that means to each of us” Jessica said.

Her proudest achievement? “I’ve done a lot of things in my life that I’m really proud of – getting my degrees, living and travelling on my own overseas, buying my own home, and having a successful career – but I’m proudest of being a good friend, colleague, sister, daughter, and cat mum.”

Jessica has chosen Insight Endometriosis as the charity she’d like McCaw Lewis to support. Endometriosis is a personal issue for her. “It’s a chronic condition suffered by an estimated 1 in 10 women and can be so debilitating, but there’s such a lack of awareness and support around it. I’ve been really lucky to have amazing family, employers and doctors, but many women don’t. Insight Endometriosis is a local charity trying to address that lack by providing education, support and resources.” McCaw Lewis has donated $250 to Insight Endometriosis to mark International Women’s Day.

Working in an environment where women are represented in all levels of the business has been an important experience for Jessica. “McCaw Lewis has been so supportive of me, professionally and personally. Having so many strong wāhine around, including in management and directorships, is so empowering and inspiring – especially in an industry where women are underrepresented in leadership roles.”

Natalie Whitelock 

Natalie Whitelock is an Associate working in our asset planning practice, helping her clients and their families to plan for the future. She is also an adventurous traveller, and always makes the most of opportunities that were made possible by women who went before her.

What makes International Women's Day important for Natalie? “In 2018 I went to the USA with my mum and we completed a tour of the US Capitol Building. On the tour, our guide talked about the women’s suffrage movement in the States. She asked our tour group if we knew which country first gave women the right to vote. I piped up and answered proudly in my undoubtedly kiwi accent - “New Zealand!” International Women’s Day is a reminder to me of the unwavering fight women before me fought to give themselves (and future generations of women) a voice on the laws and policies that would affect them. Because of their efforts, I am able to enjoy the opportunities and freedoms that women a few generations before did not.”

She tells us that her education (and her family’s support of her education) gives her a sense of pride and has allowed her to pursue and build a successful career in the law, but Natalie notes that her greatest achievements are those outside the office. “The achievements I’m most proud of are travelling to various parts of the world, being a loyal friend, and a supportive daughter and sister.”

Natalie has chosen to support the Breast Cancer Foundation NZ to mark International Women’s Day. It’s a cause that has impacted her life deeply. “I have had close family members, in particular my grandmother, experience breast cancer. My nana was an inspiration to me. She was a strong supporter of education, and although she experienced cancer at various points throughout her life, she didn’t let her illness stop her from being a supportive wife and mother, involved in the family business, and achieving the things she wanted to do, like world travel." McCaw Lewis will donate $250 towards this worthy cause.

Natalie’s sense of being in a supportive environment has given her everything she needs to flourish in her position and in the law. She says, “the directors and staff work together to create an environment where we all live out our firm values. Many of my colleagues have become friends and I think that’s a credit to our firm culture. It’s awesome to see women in some of the highest positions at the firm and producing quality work for the benefit of our clients, and also the professional growth of other women in the firm.”

Kylee Katipo 

Kylee Katipo plays an important leadership role at McCaw Lewis as a Managing Associate and through her Māori Legal mahi. She is a proud māmā to her daughter and a passionate advocate for empowerment through education.

Why is IWD important to her? “International Women's Day is an important day to celebrate te ira wahine and my tupuna wāhine. My tupuna whaea Te Atarehia Tipene nee Katipa instilled in us from young age – ko te aroha te mea nui – love is the greatest thing – and it is important to me to integrate my aroha for our people and our whānau in everything I do.”

“I am most heartened to be a māmā to my strong and confident daughter. Her passion to pursue her dreams with mana, integrity and heart is a true reflection of our tupuna whaea and all the wonderful wāhine in her life. I am also privileged to have had the support of my whānau to pursue higher education, to study law and to obtain a master’s degree in Indigenous studies when the idea of higher education seemed unattainable growing up in a small rural community.”

Kylee has chosen to support First Foundation. “I’ve chosen First foundation because of the awesome mahi they do in supporting our talented rangatahi to achieve their dreams to navigate through from school, through higher education and into careers” Kylee explained. McCaw Lewis will donate $250 towards the cause.

As a leader in the firm, Kylee values “the whānau-centric approach at McCaw Lewis and the support provided to our wāhine through our tuakana-teina programme.”

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