Three of the 21 soon-to-become District Court judges will sit in Northland.

One is Whangārei-based Coroner Brandt Shortland, who will be sworn in next month with jury jurisdiction to be based in Kaikohe District Court.

Shortland has iwi affiliations to Ngāti Hine – Te Orewai, Ngāpuhi, Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngāti Ranginui, and was appointed Coroner for Te Tai Tokerau in 2007 and deputy Coroner at the end of 2016.

After his admission to the bar in 1995, he has worked regularly in the criminal, youth and family courts.


Auckland barrister Hana Ellis and Whanganui lawyer Michelle Howard-Sager will also be based in Northland courts and, like Shortland, they are of Ngapuhi descent.

Ellis and Howard-Sager will both sit in the Family Courts in Whangārei and Kaikohe respectively.

Attorney-General David Parker said the new judges include replacements for retirements as well as 10 new positions.

Ten of the new judges are Māori, eight Pākehā, one Māori/Chinese and two Samoan. Twelve of the new judges are women.

"It's pleasing to see high quality appointees coming forward from diverse backgrounds. It is important that the judiciary reflects the make-up of the community it serves," Parker said.

He said the new judges would help manage the increasing workload in the District Court, improve access to justice and reduce the toll that long delays have on those accessing the courts.

The 2019 Wellbeing Budget allocated $54 million over four years to cover the cost of the new positions. That funding also covered the cost of the additional staff needed to ensure the judges can operate effectively.

Once the new judges are sworn in, the number of District Court judges will increase from the present 155 to 172.


The legislative cap on the number of district court judges was increased last year from 160 to 182 to allow for the new appointments and to leave room for 10 additional appointments in future years.