New face proud to be city's first female judge

21:48, Jan 07 2014

Invercargill's new judge says she is proud to be the first female judge appointed in the city.

After a career of more than 20 years as a lawyer in Whangarei, Judge Christina Cook was sworn in as a district court judge with a family court warrant and will sit in Invercargill.

She will also be a circuit judge to Queenstown.

She said was proud to be the first woman judge appointed in the city. "I'm humbled by that."

While there were travelling female judges, Judge Cook is Invercargill's first resident judge.

The mother of two was born in north London and moved to Switzerland before emigrating to New Zealand as a 4-year-old.


She returned overseas and spent several years in Port Moresby in Papau New Guinea where she experienced a city that did not have a legal system.

Daily she saw she what that lack of access to justice meant.

Violence was a feature of daily life. New Zealand had the benefit of a structured system, with good access to justice, she said.

Judge Cook was a lawyer at Whangarei firm Thomson Wilson where she became a partner before partnering her own firm, Cook-Westenra.

She had considered becoming a judge only in the past couple of years after deciding she needed a change and a challenge.

Judge Cook had contemplated leaving work and going back to study, but the opportunity to join the bench intervened.

She had always enjoyed English and debating at school and dealing with people.

Law provided all of the things she enjoyed.

Her aim as a judge in both criminal and family court was to provide consistent, appropriate sentencing and results, and to manage both as efficiently as possible.

The highlights of the job so far were being able to make positive decisions and constructive resolutions of matters, particularly in family court, along with the satisfaction of dealing with competent Southland lawyers.

"Some days can be tough because you're concentrating all the time, Judge Cook said.

"So it's intense and you've got to listen very carefully to what is being said. It's a huge responsibility because you've got people's lives affected by the decisions that you make,

"So you need to make those decisions using utmost care and attention to detail."

Outside work Judge Cook enjoys sport, especially cycling, hockey and water-skiing and had been enjoying the attractions the city had to offer such as the velodrome, Queens Park, Riverton and Bluff.

She had bought a mountain bike and was enjoying the tracks at Sandy Point.

And while she was looking forward to experiencing more of the south, the temperature difference would "take a bit of getting used to". 

The Southland Times