The Courts Minister is rejecting a suggestion that allowing judges alone to pass sentence in the marae-based youth court is undermining the mana of kaumatua.
Te Kooti Rangatahi (Youth Court) started in 2008 and is held on 10 different marae.
The court includes Maori protocol in the proceedings. An offender recites a mihi (traditional greeting in te reo Maori) and food is shared before sentence is passed down by the judge.
Waikato University law lecturer Valmaine Toki says kaumatua traditionally have the mandate on the marae and not letting them pass sentence undermines their mana.
Courts Minister Chester Borrows says the court wouldn't be on the marae without the request, permission and sanction of kaumatua, who invite the judges to do the job on the marae.
He says anything is possible, but it's important to remember the community is also keeping an eye on the system.