In a Northland, and possibly New Zealand first-ever event, Whangārei District Court celebrated the bar admission of their new court registry officer Langdon Bradley at a marae over the weekend.
The emotional ceremony – as Bradley described it – was held at Terenga Parāoa Marae on Saturday in front of Bradley's whānau, work colleagues, judges and lawyers.
Justice Christian Whata, who had travelled from Auckland, presided over the admission ceremony that had never been held in a marae, or on a Saturday, in Te Tai Tokerau before.
It was a long journey for Bradley to reach this point, starting when he returned to university at 27 with five children at home to complete a law degree.
The Kamo High School graduate had done an arts diploma at NorthTec before moving to Australia with his whānau for a few years.
When his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, they decided it was time to return home and it took a while for Bradley to pinpoint what to do next until eventually, in 2012, he enrolled at the Auckland University of Technology to study law.
"The first semester was pretty difficult, so I wasn't too sure if it was for me," he said.
But soon enough, the ambition kicked in, and Bradley not only continued his studies but engaged heavily in extracurricular activity to support fellow Māori and Pasifika students.
"Looking around in my year, I noticed there weren't a lot of Māori students," he said.
As part of the Māori and Pacific Law Association, Bradley helped budding law students who were mostly but not exclusively Māori and Pasifika.
The "huge balancing act" between university and home life with his wife and family became more difficult after several close family members, including his maternal grandfather and then, 11 months later, his mother, died.
Bradley had picked up a whopping nine papers in his last semester to finish his studies early and have his mother attend the graduation.
"Six weeks before the graduation, my mum passed away of breast cancer. She was 52 years old."
He said although a weight had been lifted off his shoulders, he felt empty and emotionless when he walked on stage to receive his degree.
It wasn't until last Saturday when Bradley shared his kōrero during his admission ceremony that he felt satisfied with his achievement and found some closure in his grieve.
Bradley hopes that his historic admission will help to pave the way to bring more te ao Māori into the district court.