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New ceremonial robes for Supreme Court Judges

01 November 2017

The Judges of the Supreme Court have adopted new ceremonial robes, an announcement from the Judicial Office for Senior Courts says.

Photo of SC robes front

The new robes replace the full-bottomed wigs and red robes which were introduced as ceremonial wear for judges of the High Court in the 1940s.

The wigs and red robes were patterned on those worn by the judges of the High Court of England and Wales. The new ceremonial robes "are designed to reflect New Zealand traditions and history and the aspirations with which the Court was established by Parliament in 2004", the statement says.

The new robes have been designed by Wellington artist Ros Bignell.

"The brief she was given was to adapt the traditional black gowns worn by barristers and judges to reflect our common law heritage, by incorporating elements which position the Court in New Zealand and draw on our own heritage and traditions."

The statement says the gown is the same design used in the ceremonial dress of the judges of the United Kingdom Supreme Court.

Photo of SC robes back

"It reflects New Zealand's common law heritage and links the judges of New Zealand to those who share the same tradition."

The fabric features a stylised kauri cone and leaves in the black on black weave "to represent the country of New Zealand and the shelter of the law".

"New Zealand's distinctive heritage under the Treaty of Waitangi is reflected in a poutama pattern trim in red, black and gold. Embroidered shoulder wings feature the three baskets of knowledge of Māori tradition set in fern fronds, representing the common law method which is to work with knowledge of the past and an eye to the knowledge of the future, while adding the insights of the present when responding to the needs and questions of today."

Last updated on the 16th September 2019