10 Apr 2014

High Court finds for Te Reo

6:37 am on 10 April 2014

A Waitangi Tribunal judge was wrong to tell a lawyer he had to cross-examine witnesses in English rather than te reo Maori, the High Court has found.

In December 2012, the Te Rohe Potae Inquiry head Judge David Ambler told a claimant's lawyer, Alex Hope, he could not question two English speakers in Maori.

The tribunal believed that using te reo Maori would take longer than speaking English.

A High Court ruling on the decision found the law was clear that anyone had the right to speak Maori in court, and Mr Hope should not have been required to ask questions in English.

However, Justice MacKenzie decided not to overrule the tribunal's original decision..

In his judgement, he stated tribunal hearings were under strict time constraints, and presiding officers must have the flexibility to determine how time was used.