Ngāi Tahu Lawyer Empowered by Puna Pakihi

Kingi Snelgar, a Ngāi Tahu lawyer, Harvard graduate, and Fulbright scholar, attributes the beginning of his own practice to the transformative impact of the Ngāi Tahu Puna Pakihi whānau business support programme.

Kingi Snelgar (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Whakaue, Te Whakatōhea and Ngāi Tahu) began his career at a prominent law firm in Auckland. In 2015, he was awarded the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship, which allowed him to attend Harvard Law School. While in the United States, Kingi served as a judge’s clerk and worked as a human rights observer, even representing indigenous rights issues before the United Nations.

With a strong sense of pride in his Ngāi Tahu heritage and whakapapa to Rakiura Stewart Island, Kingi embarked on establishing his own law practice upon returning to New Zealand.

“I’d like to create pathways for other Māori lawyers and support them in breaking down barriers within the industry,” Kingi says.

He acknowledges the role of Puna Pakihi in helping him overcome the challenges associated with starting a business. This Ngāi Tahu initiative provides comprehensive support to whānau throughout their business journey, including professional guidance, mentorship, business planning, and the opportunity to apply for grants to foster growth and sustainability.

Through Puna Pakihi, Kingi was connected with an experienced business coach, Kim Hill, whose mentorship became instrumental in expanding and diversifying his practice.

“Kim supported me in developing a business plan, which was really important. She encouraged me to build a website that reflected my values and expertise.”

Kim also assisted Kingi in enhancing his self-marketing skills, and in establishing valuable connections. She also provided financial advice and collaborated with Kingi to create a growth strategy for his business.

“She also advised me on the financial aspects of the business and we worked on a plan to grow my business. She has the skills to forecast where my business could be heading and provided feedback on areas that I could work on to get there.”

Since its inception in 2021, Kingi’s practice has welcomed two Māori wahine as junior lawyers, reflecting his commitment to creating opportunities for other aspiring Māori legal professionals. His advice to whānau considering starting their own businesses is simple yet powerful: “Go for it! Starting a business becomes less daunting when you have access to invaluable resources like Puna Pakihi. Never hesitate to seek help and support.”

Kingi Snelgar’s journey serves as a testament to the impact of Puna Pakihi. By nurturing and empowering Ngāi Tahu whānau entrepreneurs, such initiatives foster economic growth, create employment opportunities, and contribute to the overall well-being of Ngāi Tahu whānau.

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