Former Crown prosecutor Lance Rowe was officially sworn in as an acting District Court Judge last night.

With family, friends, colleagues, court staff, and judges crammed into courtroom one at the Whanganui courthouse, Judge Rowe thanked those who came for the special occasion. Having worked as a lawyer for 27 years, he will work as a judge in the Palmerston North District Court.

"I had hoped that when I put on this robe, great wisdom would descend," he said. "Alas, as I feared, the flash of wisdom has not come. It has, I think, been replaced by trepidation."

Judge Rowe told the 100 or so guests he would have to gain wisdom through experience, study, effort, and listening.

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He spent some time giving thanks to others, including those who gave speeches - Crown prosecutor and NZ Law Society Whanganui branch president Harry Mallalieu, Christchurch City Council's chief legal adviser Robert Goldsbury, and defence lawyer Debbie Goodlet.

"Debbie Goodlet said to me today that my swearing-in felt like a wedding where she was a bridesmaid," Judge Rowe said.

"Well, if that's the case, I'm something of a polygamist as I've just become married to a lot of judges."

He said after his appointment as a judge was made public, all the Palmerston North judges called him immediately to congratulate him. "If they're my new spouses then they are very thoughtful ones."

Judge Rowe took time to thank some of his mentors, including John Rowan QC, Peter Brosnahan - who he said taught him "fearlessness", and Roger Crowley, who he described as "still one of the best cross-examiners I have ever seen".

He also thanked his wife.

"Nothing more needs to be said at this time other than you are my rock," he said to her.

Speakers at his swearing-in talked of a man heavily involved in youth, with an "inquisitive and sharp legal mind".