Hundreds gathered at Te Kotahitanga Marae in Tūākau for a special court hearing to witness the swearing-in of the first Māori female District Court Judge from Waikato - Judge Tinimiraka Victoria Clark.
In her meeting house of Te Kotahitanga, Judge Tini Clark made her oath, to the delight of all seven marae of Port Waikato and her colleagues.
“We're absolutely overjoyed and proud, but, not only our family but all the tribes of Port Waikato,” says elder sister Tangiwai Rewi.
Clark was admitted to the bar in 1994 after graduating from Waikato University. However, she attributes her success to her whānau, hapū, and iwi.
For the last 14 years, she's been a Crown prosecutor in the District Court and High Court. There are only 15 Māori district court judges in the country.
“We're acutely aware of the richness that they bring to our bench, the importance of our bench representing the people,” says District Courts of New Zealand Chief Judge Jan-Marie Doogue, “And truly representing the people because our court is the biggest court in the country and it's really important that our justice is by the people, for the people.”
“When our people come before the courts they can see, 'yes, here is a judge who understands me',” says Whangārei District Court Judge, Greg Davis.
“They have the confidence that this Māori judge is listening to what I say.”
Clark will be based at the Manukau District Court.