Te reo Maori has been used for the first time in admitting law graduates to the bar in a historic ceremony.
Five recent law graduates, alumni of Victoria University, were admitted as barristers and solicitors in te reo Maori at a ceremony in the High Court in Wellington yesterday before Justice Joe Williams.
Formerly, graduates have been admitted to the bar only in English.
Tai Ahu, one of the graduates admitted to the bar yesterday, thanked Justice Williams for organising the morning's proceedings to take place in te reo.
"Justice Williams is a very good Maori speaker, and he exercised his discretion to allow the process to happen in the Maori language," Ahu said.
The five graduates all made an effort to speak as much Maori as they could, with Justice Williams speaking entirely in Maori which was also translated into English.
"We translated the oath into Maori, and the crier did all her announcements in Maori too."
Ahu said the historic ceremony was a celebration of their achievements, but also the Maori language.
"It was pretty cool to see te reo at the forefront of the court process for once, and English taking the backbench.
"Hopefully, it also raises public awareness of te reo as a language of the courts, and a language of the law, Ahu said.
"Just to have that small ceremony, I hope encourages people to use it more, and I hope will be a precedent for other candidates to also be admitted in Maori."
Justice Williams said it was great to see the Maori language being used in an age-old tradition of the court.
"This is the realisation of a huge achievement for these new lawyers after years of hard work, and they really wanted their admission ceremony conducted in te reo," he said.
"It's no problem for me, in fact it makes things easier," Justice Williams said after the ceremony.
"If the Maori language and culture are included in such proceedings, things would run a lot more smoothly."