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JAMES RAPLEY BARRISTER AND QC
Former Ashburton College student and now specialist criminal lawyer, James Rapley has fought the bad guys and defended them over the past three decades. He has represented people accused of murder, rape and other serious crimes; he was the lawyer appointed by the High Court to help Ashburton WINZ killer Russell John Tully, who refused to co-operate with his appointed defence counsel.
He is highly regarded in his legal profession and was one of 10 barristers elevated in 2018 to the rank of Queen’s Counsel, a prestigious title.
James spent the early years of his career working for the Crown and was also a prosecutor for the Serious Fraud Office. It was always his goal to become a barrister.
James now practises from Bridgeside Chambers in Christchurch. When he’s not working for clients, he teaches law at University of Canterbury and the University of the South Pacific, helping students with courtroom skills, how to crossexamine and how to open and close a case at trial.
MIKE READ ADVENTURER
Driving his tractor on the family farm alongside the Hinds River one day in 2013, Mike Read had an epiphany that would see him follow his childhood dreams to explore the world.
As a kid he had spent hours playing in the river, pretending to be leading great expeditions into the wildest places of the planet. Sitting on the tractor that day, he asked himself: ‘What would it be like to live out some of those adventures I dreamed about when I was a boy?’
That simple question was the catalyst for adventures that have taken him to some challenging and inhospitable locations.
He is currently on a series of expeditions that are part of a global challenge called the Seven Summits, where adventurers attempt to climb the highest mountain on each of the seven continents. Mike has climbed five of the seven summits to date, including Mount Everest in
May 2018. Before that, he had already climbed Elbrus in Russia, Kilimanjaro in Africa, Aconcagua in South America and Denali in Alaska.
ANNA THOMAS MEDIA SPECIALIST
Anna Thomas, who grew up in Ashburton, spent eight years working alongside Kevin Milne on consumer affairs programme Fair Go, dealing with her fair share of nasty people.
Of the many battles she fought on the show, she was instrumental in helping change ACC legislation to compensate firefighters adequately. She also exposed a get-rich-scheme fraudster by confronting him with a camera and a microphone in an Onehunga burger bar. He came at her with a chair.
Anna credits her babysitter in Ashburton, a journalist called Felicity Clark, with getting her into the news business. She left school to work at Radio Avon in Christchurch and later spent time in Yugoslavia, wondering if she could be a war correspondent.
She returned to New Zealand and began her stint with Fair Go in 1995. She loved going into people’s homes and helping solve their problems.
Anna now runs her own media comms business and was a media specialist for Tourism New Zealand at the time of the Rugby World Cup in 2011.