Te Pae Tawhiti Postgraduate Scholarship for Elise McDowell

Elise is pursuing a Master of International Human Rights Law at the University of Oxford.

Borrin Foundation Te Pae Tawhiti Postgraduate Scholarship

About Elise

Elise was born and raised in Tāmaki Makaurau, attending a small, rural primary school and then Carmel College. She worked in the disability sector alongside children, their whānau and with adults as well, in home and community living support throughout high school and while doing a BA in English and History. Following graduate studies and a career in book and magazine publishing, she completed an LLB at the University of Auckland and was fortunate to receive several first in course awards, the Blackstone Chambers Prize in Evidence, Dean’s Academic Excellence Award and Senior Scholar Award. She is married to John and a māmā of two spirited boys, Theodore and Finlay. From 2020, Elise worked at the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care, where she felt privileged to work with survivors who resolutely chose to contribute to the Inquiry with the aim of changing the future of care for Aotearoa’s children, rangatahi and at-risk adults. In particular, contributing to the Disability, Deaf and Mental Health institutional care hearing and State Institutional Response hearing was incredibly rewarding. Since late 2022, she has worked at Meredith Connell in commercial and civil litigation and Crown prosecution.


What Elise is studying

Elise will undertake a Master of International Human Rights Law at the University of Oxford. Elise is keenly aware of the disparity and marginalisation that disabled people in Aotearoa experience.  Aotearoa’s unique quasi-constitutional framework overlaid with international human rights instruments provides the rights and principles that guide the development of disability rights, legal frameworks and human rights jurisprudence domestically. She is interested in this bespoke context and wants to contribute to the development and practical application of rights-consistent and mana-enhancing policies and legislation within this framework. International human rights is foundational to this, which is why she feels genuinely excited to be completing the programme at Oxford with the assistance of the Borrin Foundation.


Scholarship amount


“This scholarship provides me with the ability to benefit from world-class study with the future aim on reducing the chasm between the rights disabled people ostensibly have and the on-the-ground enforceable reality of these rights.”

– Elise McDowell