Appointment of 21 District Court Judges is a Win for Access to Justice

The announcement of the appointment of 21 new District Court Judges, by Attorney-General David Parker, will be greeted with relief and acclaim by many in the legal profession, says New Zealand Bar Association President, Kate Davenport QC.

“The District Court is the first port of call for many New Zealand litigants, and its judges have for the last few years worked under increasing pressure. Raising the legislative cap on the number of judges from 160 to 182 is a win for access to justice, ”says Ms Davenport. “It is important that the Court has the judicial resources it needs to ensure all have recourse to justice.”

The new judges will raise the total of District Court Judges from 155 to 172. The Attorney-General has announced 19 appointments and signalled that a further two judges will be appointed later in 2020.  He noted that 10 of the new judges are Māori, eight Pākehā, one Māori/Chinese and two Samoan. Twelve of the new judges are women.

Ms Davenport says that the diversity in these appointments is essential in paving the way for a more representative justice system. “Most people agree that the judiciary needs to reflect the community as a whole. It is therefore pleasing to see that the appointments recognise this. We congratulate the new judges and wish them the best in their future careers.”

The new judges are:

Turitea Bolstad, barrister of New Plymouth, who will sit as a District Court Judge in Gisborne. Ms Bolstad’s iwi affiliations are to Ngāti Maniapoto/Ngāruahine.

Keryn Broughton, barrister of New Plymouth, who has been appointed a District Court Judge with Family Court jurisdiction, to be based in Palmerston North. Ms Broughton is of Ngā Rauru, Ngāti Ruanui and Ngāruahine descent.

Dominic Dravitzki, a barrister and solicitor, will sit in Timaru a District Court Judge with Family Court jurisdiction.

Michelle Duggan, sole practitioner of Nelson, who will sit as a Family Court Judge in Christchurch.

Hana Ellis, barrister of Auckland, who will sit as a District Court Judge with Family Court jurisdiction in Whangārei. Ms Ellis is of Ngāpuhi and Ngāti Porou descent.

Tony Greig, barrister of Rangiora, appointed as a District Court Judge with both jury and Family Court jurisdictions, to be based in New Plymouth.

Nicola Grimes, barrister and solicitor of Nelson, appointed as a District Court Judge with Family Court jurisdiction and is to be based in Hamilton.

Quentin Hix, barrister and solicitor of Timaru, who will sit as a District Court Judge based in Christchurch. Judge Hix is of Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Māmoe, Waitaha, Hawea and Rapuwai descent;

Michelle Howard-Sager, barrister and solicitor of Whanganui, appointed as a District Court Judge with Family Court jurisdiction, to be based in Kaikohe. She is of Whakatōhea, Ngāpuhi and Pākehā descent.

Gordon Matenga, coroner of Hamilton, has been appointed as a District Court Judge with jury jurisdiction to be based in Hastings. Mr Matenga’s iwi affiliations are to Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Rongomaiwahine and Ngāti Porou.

Alison McLeod, barrister and solicitor of Havelock North, will sit as a District Court Judge with a Family Court warrant, and be based in Invercargill.

Kevin Muir, barrister and solicitor, has been appointed a District Court Judge with Family Court jurisdiction to be based in Auckland.

Bruce Northwood, barrister and solicitor of Auckland, will be a District Court Judge with jury jurisdiction. He will be based in Palmerston North. Mr Northwood has affiliations to Te Aupōuri.

Rachel Paul, barrister and solicitor of Ohope, will serve as a District Court Judge with Family Court jurisdiction and be based in Hamilton. Ms Paul is of Ngāti Awa and Ngāti Manawa descent.

Brandt Shortland, a coroner for Te Tai Tokerau has been appointed as a District Court Judge with jury jurisdiction to be based in Kaikohe. He has iwi affiliations to Ngāti Hine - Te Orewai, Ngāpuhi, Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngāti Ranginui,

Kiriana Tan, barrister of Hamilton, will sit in Manukau as a District Court Judge with Family Court jurisdiction.  Ms Tan is of Chinese and Māori descent, with tribal affiliations to Ngāti Ranginui and Ngāti Mutunga.

Robyn von Keisenberg, barrister of Auckland, has been appointed as a District Court Judge with Family Court jurisdiction to be based in Auckland. Ms von Keisenberg is of Samoan descent.

Denise Wallwork, barrister of Auckland, has been appointed a District Court Judge with jury jurisdiction to be based on the North Shore. Ms Wallwork is of Samoan ancestry.

Peter Winter, barrister of Auckland, is appointed as a District Court Judge with jury jurisdiction and will be based in Auckland.

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