Community Law is commending recent moves by the Ministry of Justice to support the use of te reo Māori in courtrooms.
The Ministry last week announced it had introduced training and resources to help its staff with their pronunciation and understanding of te reo Māori in the opening and closing of court sessions. This includes District Court, Justice of the Peace and Community Magistrate sessions.
Community Law Centre O Aotearoa Chief Executive Elizabeth Tennet says the use of te reo in court not only recognises its status as an official language in Aotearoa, but enables Māori to engage better in the process of justice.
“As a group who often don’t know their legal rights, every opportunity should be made available to offer Māori access to justice.”
Ms Tennet says Community Law has been working hard to promote its services to Māori, including recently appointing a Kaitakawaenga National Māori Co-ordinator to help the organisation become more accessible and better meet the legal needs of Māori.
“We are also in the process of translating a chapter of the Community Law Manual – our easy-to-read guide to all aspects of New Zealand law – into te reo.
The chapter, ‘Te Reo Māori’ covers the official status of te reo Māori, your right to speak te reo in court, translations of court documents into te reo and other resources.
“It’s just another step that will help ensure more New Zealanders understand their rights to speak te reo in Aotearoa.”
The Community Law Manual is available in hard copy and online at www.communitylaw.org.nz/legal-information. The 2016 update will be available in July.