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.