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

One of them is Whangārei-based coroner Brandt Shortland, who will be sworn in next month with jury jurisdiction, to be based in the Kaikohe District Court. Mr Shortland (Ngāti Hine-Te Orewai, Ngāpuhi, Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui) was appointed coroner for Te Tai Tokerau in 2007, and deputy coroner in 2016. He was admitted to the bar in 1995, and has worked regularly in the criminal, Youth and Family courts.

Auckland barrister Hana Ellis and Whanganui lawyer Michelle Howard-Sager, both of whom are also of Ngāpuhi descent, will also be based in Northland, in the Family courts in Whangārei and Kaikohe respectively.

Attorney-General David Parker said the new judges included replacements for retirements as well as 10 new positions. Ten of the new judges were Māori, eight Pākehā, one Māori/Chinese and two Samoan. Twelve 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," Mr Parker 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 had on those accessing the courts.

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

The new appointees will increase the number of District Court judges from 155 to 172. The legislative cap on the number of District Court judges was increased last year from 160 to 182, to allow for new appointments and to leave room for 10 additional appointments in future years.