Upbringing shaped her life choices

By Lin Ferguson

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LEGAL TIES: Joanna Jordan is the great-granddaughter of former Labour Prime Minister Sir Walter Nash. PHOTO/LIN FERGUSON
LEGAL TIES: Joanna Jordan is the great-granddaughter of former Labour Prime Minister Sir Walter Nash. PHOTO/LIN FERGUSON

She is a warm woman with a wide smile and sparkling hazel eyes who loves to talk.

Waimarino lawyer Joanna Jordan is passionate about her work, especially her youth advocate work and representing children in court.

She works in the Family and criminal courts and said she was brought up to care and to be aware of the plight of poorer families and their children. She is in partnership with her father Jeremy Nash.

Joanna is the fifth generation on her mother's side and fourth on her father's to have obtained a law degree from Victoria University.

Despite family tradition as a youngster growing up in Taupo, Joanna said she had no intention of "falling into the family fold" and entering the legal profession.

Joanna is the great-grand-daughter of New Zealand Labour Prime Minster Sir Walter Nash. Her thoughts and beliefs about social welfare mirror those of her great grandfather.

"Benefits, for example, should not be a way of life.

"They are supposed to be a safety net. Kids need to know there is another way, like going to work."

There are too many children in New Zealand used to seeing their parents in the mornings either still in bed or sitting on the sofa watching TV."

Joanna said one young teen who has managed to get a job is told by his parents he thinks he is better than them.

"He loves working.

"But when he gets up, mum and dad are in bed and it takes him until he walks to the end of the street every morning to feel okay. He has to get up, move around quietly so he doesn't wake anyone. He hates being told that because he's working he thinks he's better than them."

Another young man, also working, had offered to help his parents financially.

"He was told the same thing: did he think he was better than them?"

Sir Walter had been quoted as saying: "I don't want to get rid of poverty just to ensure that prosperity is maintained. I want to get rid of poverty because it is bad, it is wrong, it is immoral, it is unethical, it is un-Christian, it is unfair, and it is unjust, and it is everything that is bad.

"I mean involuntary poverty, where a man is told that his hands are not wanted, and that his wife and his youngsters will be deprived of the necessary things for health."

The social welfare of people was important to him, Joanna added.

Sir Walter Nash had served as the 27th Prime Minister of New Zealand in the Second Labour Government from 1957 to 1960.

He was also highly influential in his role as Minister of Finance in the First Labour Government and is remembered for his long service, having been associated with the Labour Party since its creation in 1916.

Joanna, even though she is too young to have known him, said his legacy is very much remembered throughout the family.

Growing up on a farm outside Taupo her dad Jeremy and mum Sue had regularly taken in and cared for social welfare children, families who needed a break as well as fostering children.

"I've grown up with these kids and we used to have a great time on the farm."

After finishing secondary school and "being a bit of rebel" she worked as a nanny to a family based in Hong Kong.

It was through that family that she was offered the "incredible" opportunity to go to the United States and, while still working as a caregiver, study at the University of South Carolina at the Beaufort Campus.

She graduated from there with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and sociology then took on a sales career with a company that manufactured horse trailers. It was a job that fitted well with her own interest in horse riding

"And I loved living in the south United States. It's a beautiful place."

It was falling in love and marrying Jerry Jordan, who has Cherokee heritage, that ultimately brought them back to New Zealand, she said.

"After nearly 12 years away I wanted to study law and I wanted to continue in the family tradition and go to Victoria University."

Joanna said though the family return frequently to the United States to visit family, her and Jerry's home will always be in Raetihi.

Their lifestyle block on the outskirts of the small town is perfect, she said.

There is space for training horses, plenty of space for their three children and two dogs.

Husband Jerry teaches at Ruapehu High School.

"This area is our home and always will be."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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