January 26, 2022
Time to heed judge’s call on tikanga challenge
An advocate for justice reform says it’s time to make tikanga part of the day to day way the courts are run.
Denis O’Reilly has been a regular visitor to the courts since the 1970s, helping gang members and other Māori navigate racist and discriminatory processes.
He says there are useful tools, such as cultural reports under section 27 of the Sentencing Act, which can be used more often than they are.
That’s in line with a recent call from Supreme Court Justice Sir Joe Williams for Māori to challenge judges using tikanga.
“Whilst we have been used to standing up for the land and other issues, I think this is the year, 2022, to stand up for the people in the criminal justice system than using the devices that have been provided,” Mr O’Reilly says.
He says legal aid and the public defender system are failing Māori, and it’s time to train a cadre of advocates to ensure any Māori appearing in court has support.