Te Hunga Rōia Māori o Aoteaora, the Māori Law Society, Tumuaki Tāne (Co-President) Glenn Tootill says the organisation supports all lawyers using te reo Māori in the Courts and in practice,
Te Hunga Rōia Māori o Aoteaora has issued a statement in response to an incident at the High Court in Auckland on Wednesday where a Crown Law Office lawyer was queried by the presiding Judge after giving an appearance in te reo Māori.
It says the right to speak te reo Māori in legal proceedings is guaranteed by law, in particular through section 7 of Te Ture mō Te Reo Māori 2016 (Māori Language Act 2016), as originally enacted by section 4 of the Māori Language Act 1987.
“While Te Hunga Rōia Māori is happy to see all lawyers use te reo Māori in all courts, the Crown, in particular, has an obligation under Te Ture mō Te Reo Māori 2016 (Māori Language Act 2016) to actively protect and promote this taonga, the Māori language, for future generations,” says Marcia Murray, Tumuaki Wahine (Co-President).
“For Crown lawyers, an introduction in te reo Māori is a small step towards achieving that duty. But more importantly, all lawyers should be supported by the judiciary to speak te reo Māori.”
Te Hunga Rōia Māori notes that the Government is going through the process of selecting the next Chief Justice.
“We would expect that the minimum criteria for appointment of New Zealand’s most senior judge would include a demonstrated commitment to understanding tikanga Māori and te reo on its own terms” says Ms Murray.