ILANZ, In-House Lawyers Association of New Zealand


A chat with 2024 award winner, Sam Fellows

A chat with 2024 award winner, Sam Fellows

June 30, 2024 at 12:59 PM

Sam Fellows, winner of the ComplyWith Community Contribution award, tells us about his community organisation of choice - Camp Quality, his contribution to the several Boards he sits on around the BOP and the advantages of volunteering. 

Can you tell us a bit about the work you do that won you the ComplyWith Community Contribution Award? 

Mainly relates to governance work in community organisations and refereeing rugby. I have been a rugby referee for 21 years, and refereed my 100th premier game last year, and also help coach newer referees. In the governance space I was inspired by a lecturer at uni who said we have the privilege in getting to have the qualifications we have so have the responsibility to give back. I am not too handy but can get around a constitution or some governance issues pretty well so sit on the Boards of Camp Quality New Zealand, Momenta, Bay of Plenty Rugby Union, The Bay of Plenty Branch of the Institute of Directors and Bethlehem School. Also managed to get my 100th plasma donation last year too, so was a bit of a combination of a few things.  

As the ComplyWith Community Contribution winner, $5000 in funding will go towards a community organisation of your choice. Tell us about the organisation you have chosen and how this funding will benefit them. 

I have chosen Camp Quality New Zealand. Camp Quality New Zealand is a volunteer charitable trust dedicated to running camps where fun, friendship and a can-do culture inspire children living with cancer to overcome the challenges cancer brings. I have been volunteering in one way or another with Camp Quality since my last year at high school in 2007. 
The funding, which is amazingly generous, will mean that the full cost of two children attending a summer camp will be covered, this includes all food, medical, accommodation and activities for them and an adult volunteer, as well as the administrative and other costs that it takes to keep an organisation going for a year.  

What led you to volunteering your time with Camp Quality and refereeing rugby union? 

Camp Quality was being asked to help with a fundraiser marshalling at balloons over Waikato in high school, then getting roped in as there were not enough male companions (volunteers peered with the children) and have loved being involved since. 

I got involved in refereeing rugby as I shattered a vertebrae in a rowing accident, so could no longer play. A friends dad was a referee and encouraged me to get involved and I loved it.  

What do you think are the advantages of volunteering? 

It is a great way to help out the community that I love. I get the opportunity to work with and meet people I wouldn’t get a chance to on a day to day. Also in the governance space I get a chance to be a key part of an organisation to help them achieve their goals. It also is a great way to develop skills and connections that help me every day in my work. It can make it easier when I am fronting a group of residents if I have already met them as part of my volunteer roles (although potentially less helpful if their rugby team lost).

What was your 2024 Conference highlight?

Really the opportunity to take some time with the help of the fantastic speakers, topics and attendees to reflect on the way our team and I personally operate. It is always a great opportunity to spend some time away as a team. 

What would you say to someone thinking about nominating themselves or a co-worker for an award? 

Go for it, you have to be in to win, but more than winning the award itself the process of submitting an application allows for a great moment of reflection for the team on what you have achieved recently. We often in legal teams get so focused on moving onto the next thing, putting out the next fire or not seeing the contribution we made that it creates a great opportunity to sit back and reflect how awesome the work we all do as in-house teams is.