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New Judges Bring Extra Diversity

The District Court administers justice on behalf of the communities it serves, and the makeup of the District Court bench is increasingly reflecting the diversity of those communities.

Image of Judge Keryn Broughton.

Judge Keryn Broughton (Nga Ruaru, Ngāti Ruanui) was sworn-in in New Plymouth in February and assigned to Palmerston North.

A feature of the 2019-20 year was the number of Māori and Pasifika judges joining the District Court. More than half of the 27 new judges appointed are of Māori or Pasifika descent, with Chinese, Dutch, Jewish and other cultures also represented.

At 16 per cent, the number of District Court judges who are of Māori descent is now almost in line with the percentage of Māori in the New Zealand population.

Awareness of diversity and cultural competence is a requirement in all divisions of the court. A growing number of District Court judges speak or are learning te reo.

Half the judges in the Family Court are now women, and across all the District Court, women account for more than one-third of the bench.

The judges appointed to the District Court this year go some way to ensuring more voices from Aotearoa New Zealand’s diverse communities have a seat at the justice table.

The appointments come amidst increasing calls for transformative change in the way justice is delivered in New Zealand to ensure courts are relevant and that those appearing in court feel they are heard and understood.

Image of Judge Quentin Hix and a group of judges in front of Te Hapa o Niu Tireni Marae.

Judge Quentin Hix (Ngai Tahu, Ngāti Mamoi, Waitaha) was sworn in on his home marae, Arowhenua Marae, in Temuka in February and assigned to Christchurch.

Images of Judge Lope Ginnen, Judge Ida Malosi, Judge La Verne King and a colleague from their former law firm, Ali’imuanua Sandra Alofivae.

Judge Lope Ginnen (centre left) became the second District Court judge of Samoan descent in July 2019. Joining her at her swearing-in ceremony was the District Court’s first Samoan judge, Judge Ida Malosi (left), Judge La Verne King (right; Ngatikahu ki Whangaroa, Te Aupouri, Ngati Paoa, Ngati Maru) who was appointed a few months earlier, and a colleague from their former law firm, Ali’imuanua Sandra Alofivae.