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21 new judges boost diversity, improve access to justice - David Parker

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Twenty-one new District Court judges have been appointed in a move that will improve access to justice and boost diversity on the bench.

The new judges include replacements for retirements and 10 new positions.

Attorney-General David Parker today announced the 14 judges who can immediately be named, with the remainder to be announced later this year.

"The new judges will help manage the increasing workload in the District Court, improve access to justice and reduce the toll that long delays have on those accessing the courts," David Parker said.

"It will also mean victims of crime and their families will be able to have their day in court sooner."

Ten of the new judges are Māori, eight Pākehā, one Māori/Chinese and two Samoan. Twelve of the new judges are women.

"It’s pleasing to see high quality appointees coming forward from diverse backgrounds. It is important that the judiciary reflects the make-up of the community it serves."

David Parker said he considered access to justice and further development of specialist/therapeutic courts to be key priorities for the District Court.

The 2019 Wellbeing Budget allocated $54 million over four years to cover the cost of the new positions. That funding also covered the cost of the additional staff needed to ensure the judges can operate effectively.

Once the new judges are sworn in, the number of District Court judges will increase from the current 155 to 172.

The legislative cap on the number of district court judges was increased last year from 160 to 182 to allow for the new appointments and to leave room for 10 additional appointments in future years.

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