Holding the fort in pivotal roles

Judge Anthony Walsh — Family Court Judge/Youth Court Judge

I had the privilege of being Acting Principal Family Court Judge for two months in 2014 and Acting Principal Youth Court Judge in May and June of 2017.

These appointments provided a fascinating opportunity to appreciate the complexities of administration and the operations of each court.

Image of Judge A Walsh.The management of judicial resources throughout New Zealand is a challenging task. Various regions have different workloads requiring constant juggling of resources. A dedicated team at the Chief Judge’s chambers has developed considerable expertise in addressing these management issues, and I was grateful for the support they gave me.

In April 2014, significant amendments to the Care of Children Act 2004 and the Family Court Rules took effect. Inevitably these reforms presented issues relating to the interpretation and application of new legislation and rules of procedure. I was assisted by excellent support staff and by all the Family Court judges I consulted.

The formation of the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki, in April 2017 has significant implications for youth justice agencies, including the Youth Court. Co-operation between the Youth Court, Police Youth Aid, Oranga Tamariki and other Youth Court agencies is vital to keep abreast of research and initiatives to reduce youth offending. The Principal Youth Court Judge’s role is pivotal in overseeing such interaction.

The relationship between the principal judges and government departments and agencies is another facet of managing the courts. Issues affecting the courts arise continually from new legislation and government policy changes. It takes time to understand fully how departments and agencies operate and interact with each other and the courts.

"Co-operation between the Youth Court, Police Youth Aid, Oranga Tamariki and other Youth Court agencies is vital to keep abreast of research and initiatives to reduce youth offending"