Tauranga lawyer Sharon Stewart has been recognised as one of New Zealand's leading mediators after receiving the Resolution Institute Mediator of the Year award at the New Zealand Law Awards.

The award was presented by fellow Tauranga lawyer and Holland Beckett partner Mark Beech, who is the vice president of professional body, the Resolution Institute.

"Sharon is now recognised as one of the leading mediators in New Zealand," said Mr Beech.

"From the Resolution Institute's perspective it's a big deal. And more importantly, it's a big deal for the Bay of Plenty, that we have these sorts of talented people living here. It's great recognition for what she does, and also recognition that things in the Bay are going from strength to strength."

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The New Zealand Law Awards, held late last week, cover 28 categories including firms, in-house teams and deals. Most awards were won by major metro law firms, with the exception of Ms Stewart's accolade.

The award acknowledged the work being done by people working in the regions, said Ms Stewart.

"It's important that people who work outside the main centres are recognised for the role they do, and that applies to small mediation generally in this country," she said.

"For me personally, it's a very prestigious award and I feel highly privileged to have been nominated for, and to have been awarded that prize."

Ms Stewart has been a lawyer for nearly 20 years, specialising in mediation and facilitation. She was an early adopter of restorative justice practices and was one of the first trustees to set up the local Restorative Justice Trust. She is also district inspector for mental health, a role that is warranted by the Minister of Health.

Ms Stewart runs her own mediation and facilitation business, Out of Court. She is qualified as a barrister and mediator and is experienced in professional mediation, facilitation and conflict management, working with businesses, organisations, communities, families and individuals to design resolution processes focused on achieving long term outcomes.

Her services also include family dispute resolution, bullying and harassment investigations.
  
Resolution Institute

-Not-for-profit organisation for mediators, arbitrators, adjudicators, restorative justice practitioners and other dispute resolution professionals.

-More than 4000 members in Australia, New Zealand and the Asia Pacific region.