A Bay of Plenty judge has been internationally recognised for the work he has done to help the region's young people.
Judge Louis Bidois has received the Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration 2015 Award for Excellence in Judicial Administration. Judge Bidois is one of eight judges to be honoured.
The award recognises the contribution of the judges and court staff who developed the courts and the Maori communities who embraced them to help their young people access justice. Although the award was announced late last year, this is the first opportunity for so many of those involved in the courts to come together to accept the award.
The courts aim to provide the best possible rehabilitative response for young offenders by reconnecting them with their cultural identity, and meaningfully involving local Maori communities in the process. The courts met the award criteria for improving access to justice, demonstrating innovation and delivering real benefits for the justice system. The selection panel said it was particularly impressed by the way in which local Māori communities have been engaged in assisting their own young offenders to achieve youth justice.
The Judges were nominated for the award by Chief District Court Jan-Marie Doogue and Principal Youth Court Judge Andrew Becroft. They wanted to recognise the tireless personal and professional efforts of the eight Judges in developing the genuine and enduring relationships with Maori communities required to sustain such an initiative.
Chief Judge Doogue and Judge Becroft say this is an honour that warrants celebration:
"We can all feel proud that those who developed this uniquely New Zealand way of delivering justice into the heart of our communities have been honoured. These Judges have taken courageous and significant steps on behalf of their own people to develop this innovative and culturally appropriate response to Maori and Pasifika youth offending.
"To pioneer these courts, at times they have placed their individual mana and standing within their own communities on the line. They have been challenged by both the legal community and their own communities, and have been accountable to both. We are delighted their commitment has been recognised in this way."
This is the second time New Zealand Judges have won the AIJA Award for Excellence.
In 2013 the District Court at Christchurch shared in an award for efforts made to ensure the efficient administration of justice in Christchurch after the 2011 earthquake. The AIJA is a research and educational institute for judicial officers and court administrators, and is associated with Monash University.