4 Feb 2015

Lack of Maori Law Society consultation on judges

9:45 am on 4 February 2015

The Māori Law Society says it is only consulted on an ad hoc basis when it comes to providing suitable tāngata whenua as candidates to be judges.

Māori Law Society co-president Rachel Mullins

Māori Law Society co-president Rachel Mullins Photo: SUPPLIED

In contrast, the New Zealand Law Society said it was regularly consulted on the appointment of members of the judiciary.

A spokesperson said that consultation was about regulatory matters and the suitability of candidates for the role in areas such as experience.

The Māori legal profession has been calling for more indigenous judges, following the release of figures to Te Manu Korihi which show only 28 out of about 243 judges in the country define themselves as Māori.

Te Hunga Rōia Māori o Aotearoa (the Māori Law Society) co-president Rachel Mullins said there was an evolving body of what is referred to as 'Māori law' in relation to Treaty Settlements and environmental issues.

"That requires a deeper understanding of the Māori dimension and a sound grasp of tikanga and Te Reo and Māori judges that bring those skills to the bench are invaluable.

"Historically the Māori Law Society has been approached regarding appointments to the judiciary, but this has been on an ad hoc basis. Given that it has a Māori lawyers database and holds annual conferences that are well attended by its members, it is well-positioned to contribute names of appropriate candidates to judicial appointments," she said.

Attorney-General Chris Finlayson was unavailable for comment.

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