Insights from the playhouse to the courthouse

Judge Rosemary Riddell — Family Court Judge

My career as a Family Court judge began 11 years ago. While loving the job, I’ve also been able to supplement it by pursuing my other, artistic passions.

Image of Judge Riddell.

I have long been involved in theatre and film. At university, voice training proved useful when radio work helped finance my law degree.

Just before my appointment to the bench, I directed a short film about an elderly woman with dementia who escaped from a resthome. Called Cake Tin, it went on to win at the Moondance Festival in Hollywood; a totally unexpected but exciting result.

In 2009, I directed The Insatiable Moon, a feature film about a psychiatric patient who believed he was the second Son of God. It starred Rawiri Paratene and won two New Zealand Film Awards, for best actor and best supporting actor. The film was an adaptation of my husband Mike's novel of the same name.

I suspect some people view judges as being relatively remote from the nitty gritty of life. But artistic endeavours, alongside my earlier engagement with the psychiatric community, have given me useful insights into the challenges faced by people in difficult circumstances.

These experiences were a wonderful entry to a world quite different from my judicial role, but just as rewarding.

If another directing opportunity arose, I would probably jump at it. But for now, what spare time I have is taken up with playing jazz piano, photography and reading.

"I suspect some people view judges as being relatively remote from the nitty gritty of life. But artistic endeavours … have given me useful insights into the challenges faced by people in difficult circumstances"