Judge Heemi Taumaunu, Ngāti Pōrou, Ngāti Konohi and Ngāi Tahu—LLB 1993
Judge Heemi Taumaunu was appointed chief district court judge in September 2019 and is the first Māori to be appointed chief judge.
I whakarewahia a Heemi Taumaunu hei Tumuaki o te Kōti i te marama o Hepetema 2019, ā, ka noho ko ia hei kaiārahi i te kāhui kaiwhakawā hokowhitu me ngā kaiwhakawā e iwa tekau o ngā hapori.
I whānau mai a Heemi i Tūranga-nui-a-Kiwa. Ko ia hoki te Māori tuatahi i whakarewahia ki taua tūranga, otirā, he tangata mātau ki te kōrero Māori. He uri a Heemi nō ngā kāwai hekenga o Ngāti Porou me tōnā hapū o Ngāti Konohi, ā, tae noa ki te iwi o Ngāi Tahu.
Neke atu i te tekau tau a Heemi e whakamātau ana i ngā mahi ture i Tūranga i roto hoki i Te Ope Tauā o Tūmatauenga, ā, i muri iho ka tohua hei kaiwhakawā a-rohe i te tau 2004. I ako ia i ngā mahi o te ture i Te Herenga Waka te wāhi i whakawhiwhia ai a ia ki te karahipi whakamaumahara o Quentin Baxter me te karahipi o Ngā Rangatahi Toa. Ko Heemi te tangata tuatahi o tōnā hapū o Ngāti Konohi ki te whiwhi i te tohu ture, ā, ki te mahi hoki hei rōia.
I muri mai o āna mahi rōia mō te Rōpū Manene i Te Whanganui-a-Tara ka hoki a ia ki Tūranga ki te mahi i ngā mahi rōia i te tau 1994. I roto i ngā tau tekau, he hohonu ngā wheako i ākona e ia i roto i ngā kōtitanga hūri, hei kaiwawao mō ngā rangatahi i roto i ngā Kōti Rangatahi, ā, hei rōia, kaitautoko hoki i te tamaiti i roto i ngā Kōti Whānau.
Nā runga i te āhuatanga o tana noho hei kaiārahi i roto i te Kōti ā-rohe kua ākina i te whakaaro nui ki te wairua Māori o ngā mahi hei huarahi whakaea tikanga. Nāna i ārahi i te whakawhanake o te Kōti Rangatahi o Aotearoa, arā, te Kōti Rangatahi ki runga ki ngā marae. I puta ai tōnā mataara ki te ao i te tau 2017 i a ia i whakawhiwhia ai ki te tohu Veilard-Cybulski.
I noho a ia hei māngai i runga i te rōpū tohutohu o ngā kaiwhakawā matua, ka mutu, hei tiamana mō te rōpū tohutohu mō nga kaupapa Māori. I roto i ēnei tūranga ka noho ko ia hei taniwha hikuroa ki te whakahau i ngā Kōti ā-rohe ki te hāpai i ngā tikanga hei whakatairanga i te iwi Māori kia mataara kia angitū hoki i roto i ngā Kōti.
Kua noho hoki a kaiwhakawā Taumaunu hei kaiwhakawā mō te paepae Kōti o Te Ope Tauā o Aotearoa mai i te tau 2012.
Judge Heemi Taumaunu was appointed chief district court judge in September 2019, and leads a bench of more than 170 judges and 18 community magistrates.
Born in Gisborne, he is the first Māori to be appointed to the role and is a fluent te reo Māori speaker. His tribal affiliations are Ngāti Porou and its sub-tribe Ngāti Konohi, and Ngāi Tahu.
He was appointed a district court judge in 2004 after a decade practising law, mainly in Gisborne, and a previous career in the New Zealand Army. He studied Law at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington, where he was awarded the Quentin-Baxter Memorial Scholarship and the Ngā Rangatahi Toa Scholarship. He was the first person from Ngāti Konohi to gain a Law degree and to practise as a barrister and solicitor.
After a period as a solicitor with the Immigration Service and Te Puni Kōkiri in Wellington, he returned to Gisborne to practise law in 1994. In his 10 years as a barrister, he gained substantial experience in jury trials, as a youth advocate in the Youth Court, and as a lawyer for the child and counsel to assist in the Family Court.
Through various leadership roles in the district court, Judge Taumaunu has encouraged a wider appreciation of the value of culturally responsive justice. He led the development of Ngā Kōti Rangatahi o Aotearoa, the marae-based rangatahi courts, and his leadership was recognised internationally in 2017 when he received the Veillard-Cybulski Award.
He has been the tangata whenua representative on the Chief Judge’s Advisory Group and has chaired the Kaupapa Māori Advisory Group. In these roles, he has been a driving force in encouraging the district court to embrace tikanga as a way to enhance Māori engagement and confidence in the court.
Judge Taumaunu has also served as a judge of the Court Martial of New Zealand since 2012, including as deputy judge advocate general and deputy chief judge.