“It is the beginning of a new year and an academic adventure for WMU-Cooley students in our Down Under Program!” – Down Under Director Kimberly O’Leary
It’s been a great 2016 so far! Law students arrived at the beginning of the year, and they have settled nicely into their rooms on the campus of University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand. Our first class was held on January 4, but unlike Michigan, the New Zealand landscape is full of fragrant flowers, green ferns and flourishing trees. It is in the prime of summer Down Under!
Students happily launched into their courses, such as Introduction to New Zealand Legal System with local co-director Cheryl Green, Comparative Chinese & Common Law Systems, with Professor Zhixiong “Leo” Liao, Indigenous Rights in Action with Valmaine Toki, while I teach Equity & Remedies to the law students. After just one week, our understanding of parliamentary, Chinese civil code/Communist party and indigenous systems has blossomed, just like the beautiful local flora!
We have also learned about a democracy where the Constitution isn’t written down and the importance of conventions and customs. In addition to studying and participating in classes, students have had time to explore Hamilton, including the outstanding Hamilton Gardens, the Riverwalk and the Hamilton Zoo. The students especially enjoyed feeding lemurs and a white rhinocerous at the zoo!
Over a weekend, students, faculty and family members fit in an excursion to Raglan, one of the best surfing beaches in the world and home of the famous black sand. After traveling through mountains to arrive, we viewed Bridal Veil Falls, which put on quite a show after holiday rains, and then we took a harbor cruise into the Raglan Bay, where we were served fish and chips. The local co-director, Cheryl Green, has taken on a special role shepherding this American flock as we navigate through Aotearoa – the Maori name for New Zealand – which means, “land of the long white cloud.”
WMU-Cooley Law School Professor Kimberly E. O’Leary directs the law school’s Study Abroad program in New Zealand and Australia. She, along with her law students are sharing their experiences throughout the Hilary 2016 semester.