New Zealand Law Society - Judge Herbert Carr

Judge Herbert Carr

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Tena Koe,

Could we please have a correction on page 74 of LawTalk 902 (August 2018), “Some trailblazers”.

I have constantly seen an inaccuracy over the years in regard to the first Māori judge appointments to the bench, and this really needs to be corrected.

The first Māori person appointed to the bench was Judge Herbert Harold Carr (1880-1973). He was a nephew to the Hon James Carroll, one of the first Māori Cabinet ministers.

Judge Carr was appointed a Native Land Court judge in 1923.

Members of my whanau appeared before him in the Native Land Court/ Māori Land Court in the 1920s and 1930s on the East Coast of the North Island (Tairawhiti Māori Land Court District). He served on the bench 1923-1952 (nearly 30 years).

He viewed himself as Māori even though he had mixed parentage (a Māori mother and Pākehā father), and this is the same for (Judge) Ken Mason, (Judge, Chief Judge, Justice) Eddie Durie and (Justice) Lowell Goddard who also have mixed parentage as well.

Could we please have a correction to this in LawTalk, so Judge Carr could be given this recognition please.

You can see also see his biography in Te Ara.

Nga mihi,

Dr Paerau Warbrick
Te Tumu: School of Māori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies, University of Otago.

Geoff Adlam replies:

Dr Warbrick’s correction is much appreciated and I apologise for not marking Judge Carr’s great contribution to New Zealand legal history. The chronology of New Zealand legal trailblazers has now been placed on its own page on the Law Society website and corrected to ensure Judge Carr is recognised.

The opportunity has also been taken to correct another error. By mistake the swearing in of A’e’au Semikueiva Epati as a District Court Judge was listed as occurring on 22 February 1982, instead of the actual date of 22 February 2002. This error is also regretted.

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