COOK ISLANDER, FAMILY LAW SPECIALIST, ENTERTAINER - KRISTY MORGAN
Originally from the East Coast of New Zealand’s North Island in Napier, Kristy Morgan has recently set up her own practice, Kristy Morgan Barrister, in the hustle and bustle of South Auckland. She decided to venture out on her own in 2019, providing legal services as a family law specialist, after over ten years’ experience as a family lawyer.
Ironically, Kristy shares that she had no intentions of pursuing tertiary education, let alone become a lawyer. “After high school, I worked as a receptionist for the Ministry of Social Development. Through a cadetship program with the Ministry, I was transferred to Auckland and started working as a Case Manager”, says Kristy.
Moving to Auckland was a culture shock for Kristy, who shares that despite being of Cook Islands Maori descent, she was not exposed to her pacific culture very often.
“Growing up, I never felt connected to my culture. In high school, I was one of two pacific islanders in my class. The other was my best friend”, she smiles.
While they took part in the few cultural activities available throughout school, it was in Auckland where Kristy developed a genuine and personal connection with her pacific island culture and roots through pacific dance and music. It unlocked a passion that Kristy is now dedicated to. She shares that this has also sparked a passion and resurgence of the pacific identity and culture in her family.
Today, Kristy is the Operations and Marketing Director for MBrace Pacific Dance (NZ) Ltd.
Kristy also was driven to excel in her career, where she decided to pursue law school at the University of Auckland. Sharing her experience at University, Kristy highlights that she felt isolated at times, having no connections and going into university a little older than many students who have just come out of college.
“It was hard and finding my way was a challenge at times”, says Kristy.
The Pacific Islands Law Students Association leveraged that, providing assistance and facilitating networking with other students.
After graduating, Kristy spent 10 years working as a family lawyer in Auckland with Brookfields Lawyers, Denham Bramwell Lawyers, Oranga Tamariki (Ministry for Children) and Swayne Macdonald Lawyers. Kristy shares that she decided to venture out on her own, with the desire to steer her own career and to build something for herself.
“I outgrew being an employee and wanted to challenge myself”, she shares. “I also want to show my children that anything is possible, that if I can do this, they can achieve anything they set their minds to.”
Kristy is committed to serving pacific families and communities, in particular families and/or individuals who are in difficult situations or need help and protection. Kristy is passionate about social justice and using her profession to achieve positive outcomes for pacific communities.
When asked about her future aspirations, Kristy reveals that she hopes to partner with other lawyers to perhaps start a firm, as well as provide mentoring and guidance for upcoming pacific lawyers.
But running a law practice is not as glamorous as it may seem. When asked about the challenges of running her own practice and being a start-up business, Kristy highlights that it is definitely daunting at the outset, “You quickly learn that you’re not only providing legal services, I also have to be my own secretary, I.T support person, financial planner and more. You have to do the work in order to generate your desired income. But this is what I expected, and I’m prepared for the challenge.”
The Family Law Specialist is inspired by her children, her community and being a pacific woman.
“I believe in achieving excellence and setting high standards. With that mindset, I’m inspired to help my community the best way I can, because they, the children, are our future.”
Her advice to young entrepreneurs or upcoming lawyers is that no matter who you are or where you come from, you can achieve your dreams and aspirations. Knowledge is power and setting goals and working towards them persistently makes the difference.
Kristy Morgan Barrister is located at the Pacific Business Hub. “When I first saw this place, I instantly fell in love with the décor and set up. It felt very Pacific and professional at the same time, a perfect blend of the two worlds.”
Kristy shares that the environment at the hub is supportive, where everyone celebrates each other’s successes and pushes each other to reach their own goals and aspiration. This is a change from the corporate environment in her line of work, where it can get competitive. “The Pacific Business Hub is empowering and uplifting. People genuinely want to see you succeed and that’s the best kind of place to start your business”, says Kristy.