Te Reo Māori rolled out through court system

updated By Aroha Treacher
  • North Island: East Coast

New resources are being introduced to help court staff speak te reo Māori. The Ministry of Justice introduced the initiative to help expand the language throughout the court system and improve pronunciation.

Te reo Māori is now going to be heard a lot more in our district courts.

Chief Judge Jan-Marie Doogue told Te Kāea, “We introduced Te Reo Māori for the opening and closing of court sessions because we wanted to acknowledge tangata whenua and we wanted to acknowledge the partnership as we see it, between our government and the public.”

Each court had a site champion to help coach and support judges and staff, and included flip cards with English translations and audio files.

General Manager for the District Courts, Tony Fisher says the initiative is supported by all staff, “All of our staff, including the judges, are really supportive of this initiative. Over the last few months, they've been learning words and the correct pronunciation to use with their work in the courts.”

The Ministry of Justice has invested in the resources to help get the pronunciation right, not only the greetings but also the defendants' names.

Tony Fisher General Manager, District Courts

“Firstly, it's about the court showing their commitment to the Māori language. Secondly, it's pronouncing the Māori words right to show respect to the person and acknowledge their Māori ancestry,” says Fisher.

“Such is the interest in being able to pronounce Te Reo properly in courts that there are a lot of judges who are paying for themselves to have Te Reo lessons,” says Doogue.

The roll out follows the use of te reo in higher courts, allowing judges and staff to be confident in their Māori language use.