Women Leaders in Law Fellow Natalie Pierce

Natalie Pierce is one of the inaugural Borrin Foundation Women Leaders in Law Fellows. The Fellowship is supporting Natalie to complete her Masters in International Human Rights Law at the University of Oxford (New College). 

Borrin Foundation Women Leaders in Law Fellowship

Natalie’s plan

The Fellowship will support her completion of the Masters in International Human Rights Law at the University of Oxford (New College). As part of this programme, Natalie will specialise in international criminal law, the right to life (including law enforcement issues), and will examine the prevention and prosecution of atrocity crimes (genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and torture).


About Natalie

Natalie Pierce specialises in domestic and international criminal law, human rights, and national defence and security. She has served as Chief Adviser to the Government Inquiry into Operation Burnham and Related Matters, providing expert advice on detention and torture. As Principal Legal Adviser and Project Lead, she led the establishment of the Royal Commission into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions – the largest Inquiry in New Zealand’s history, with jurisdiction to examine serious abuse and neglect in care and custodial settings.

In the Crown Law Office Criminal Group, Natalie provided advice on domestic and transnational criminal law matters, including extradition, mutual legal assistance, and global law enforcement cooperation. As Legal Adviser: International Law (Specialist) in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Legal Division, she provided advice and representation on international criminal and military law, extradition and deportation, anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing. As Legal Adviser to the Chair of the Independent Police Conduct Authority, she examined allegations of misconduct or neglect of duty, fatal incidents, and developed the Authority’s national detention monitoring programme under the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture. In 2010, she served as a delegate for the International Criminal Court negotiations on the crime of aggression held in Kampala, Uganda.

As a University of Otago alumna, Natalie began her legal career as Judicial Research Counsel and has interned with UNHCR (Pacific Regional Office). She has published on transitional justice, torture law and human rights, and delivered lectures and seminars in New Zealand, Australia, Europe and the United States.


Grant Amount

$36,975 in 2021-2022

“Finding ways to make Aotearoa New Zealand a more tolerant, just, and fair society—one in which all can thrive and where the law is truly accessible, regardless of one’s background, ability, or means—is both a daily exercise and lifelong endeavour.


I pursued a career in law to help others and enhance access to justice in various contexts.  Much of my work and research thus far has focused on the protection of vulnerable persons and the prevention of ill-treatment, as well as the importance of independent and effective oversight. There is, of course, always more to be done.


Judge Borrin has provided a very special gift to this country.  The Borrin Foundation fellowships and awards—which continue to develop and expand—provide an invaluable opportunity to examine how we can effect meaningful change in our legal system, both now and in the future.  I am most grateful to be a Borrin Foundation Women Leaders in Law Fellow and look forward to applying the knowledge gained to future legal projects.”

Natalie Pierce