Crown prosecutor and University of Waikato law graduate Tinimiraka Victoria Clark was appointed District Court Judge with a jury warrant earlier this month – the first Māori female District Court Judge with a law degree from Te Piringa - Faculty of Law at the University of Waikato.
Hundreds gathered to witness the swearing-in ceremony at Te Kotahitanga marae in Tūākau. Of Tainui descent (Ngāti Tīpa, Ngāti Tahinga and Ngāti Āmaru), Judge Clark made her oath in the presence of her whānau, colleagues and all seven marae of Port Waikato.
With more than 20 years of legal experience, Judge Clark was admitted to the bar in 1994 after graduating with a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Waikato, and has been a Crown prosecutor in Hamilton since 2004.
In her ceremonial speech, Chief District Court Judge of New Zealand Jan-Marie Doogue dwelt on the changing makeup of the District Court bench. “Every year, the District Court touches the lives of thousands of New Zealanders, often at times of turmoil, vulnerability and need,” she said. “Not only must it be a court of law, it’s also a court of the people.” Judge Doogue said that for the court to have the people’s confidence, it needs to reflect the communities it serves. “Fostering diversity is vital,” she said, for the District Court to deliver justice meaningfully, effectively and with dignity. “It’s been 43 years since a woman was first appointed a judge in New Zealand, and 48 years since the first Māori became a District Court Judge. Today the District Court bench is about one third female. Māori judges number 18 – and with your appointment Judge Clark, we now have two of Tainui descent.”
Dean of Te Piringa - Faculty of Law, Associate Professor Wayne Rumbles is very proud of Judge Clark’s appointment. “On behalf of the faculty, I wish her every success in her career as a District Court Judge – this is an amazing accomplishment,” he says. “Judge Clark is a role model and an inspiration to our law students. It’s fantastic to see our alumni making a difference and achieving their goals.”
Judge Clark will be based at the Manukau District Court in South Auckland. She joins University of Waikato law alumni Judge Craig Coxhead who was appointed to the Māori Land Court bench in 2008, and Judge Greg Davis who was appointed to the District Court bench in 2010.
Other notable alumni include Judge Stephanie Milroy and Judge Stephen Clark who were appointed to the Māori Land Court bench in 2002 and 2008 respectively.