phone 04 499 4065
fax 04 499 4065
mobile 021 663 129

Postal address
PO Box 5817
Lambton Quay
Wellington 6145

Maria Austen

Areas of Practice

  • Employment
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Change Management
  • Health and Safety
  • Privacy
  • Collective Bargaining
  • Stress Claims

Maria is an experienced Employment Lawyer. For the last 14 years she has practised exclusively in Employment law. Prior to joining Port Nicholson as a barrister, Maria was a Principal of the Crown Solicitor's Office in Wellington advising Ministries, Crown Entities, Public Service Departments and State Sector Organisations. Maria's expertise in Employment Relations is broad.

She has specialist expertise in managing restructuring processes and change management initiatives end to end and is experienced in defining strategy and consultation processes. Maria regularly advises on employee performance, disciplinary issues and investigations, post employment restraints and protection of confidential information, stress claims and how to effectively manage prolonged sick leave.

Maria’s advocacy skills are recognised by clients and peers alike. She has extensive experience acting as counsel in mediations, Employment Relations Authority hearings, and court hearings in the Employment Court, District Court and High Court. Maria is also a regular presenter at National conferences on Employment law and Human Resource issues.

Career Highlights

  • Successful hearings for employers in the Employment Relations Authority and Employment Court
  • Appearances as junior counsel in the Court of Appeal
  • Consistent achievement of best case outcomes for clients in Mediations
  • Providing the Employment Law advice for National and Multi-national mergers and acquisitions
  • Corporate Restructuring including the interpretation and application of ‘good faith’ and meaningful consultation
  • Drafting proposals for consultation, designing communication strategies and implementing new structures
  • Advising Government agencies on implementing disciplinary and dismissal processes in relation to suspected employee misconduct including fraud, theft and criminal offending
  • Advising on disciplinary issues and Jurisdictional disputes for overseas NZ employers
  • Restraint of Trade and Confidential Information Litigation
  • Disciplinary and Performance advice
  • Advising several Health Organisations and employers on employment and clinical obligations
  • Interlocutory reinstatment litigation
  • Employment Relations Authority Investigations, Employment Court Hearings and Mediations
  • Conducting Investigations for Corporate employers
  • Advising on stress claims and prolonged sick leave
  • Providing advice on Privacy complaints and Human Rights legislation
  • Successfully defending employers in personal grievance proceedings regarding disciplinary action, restructuring and stress claims
  • Assisting employers to develop a comprehensive suite of employment documentation for the workplace including employment agreements, human resource policies including codes of conduct and health and safety and drug and alcohol policies
  • Advising on Holidays and Parental Leave issues
  • Member of the Wellington Employment Law Committee
  • Frequent presenter at National Employment Law and Human Resources Conferences including those run by LexisNexis, Conferenz and Bright*Star
  • Publications in Human Resources Institute of New Zealand Magazine, Safeguard, Dominion Post and Employment Today.