Te Ao Mārama

A vision for the District Court

Te Ao Mārama is a judicially led kaupapa that will improve the experience for all people who participate in the court system, including victims and whānau. By partnering with iwi and engaging with communities, Te Ao Mārama will be designed to best serve each community’s specific needs.

Te Ao Mārama will mean that all people who come to court to seek justice will be seen, heard, understood and able to meaningfully participate. Te Ao Mārama is inclusive of all people, no matter their means or abilities, regardless of their ethnicity or culture, and regardless of who they are or where they are from.

Te Ao Mārama is a journey towards a more enlightened justice system as a response to repeated calls for transformative change.  While there have been efforts to respond to these calls for systemic change in the form of our specialist courts, Te Ao Mārama is a comprehensive response for the District Court.

What will Te Ao Mārama look like, in practice?

 Te Ao Mārama will include knowledge, skills and approaches that we already know work well in specialist and therapeutic courts (including the Rangatahi, Matariki, Young Adult List, and Family Violence Courts,) such as:

  • solution-focused judging
  • using plain language
  • revised courtroom layouts 
  • tikanga Māori

Te Ao Mārama will also include approaches that are unique to each community. We will partner with iwi and engage with local communities to co-design and deliver services to meet each community’s diverse needs.

How will we grow Te Ao Mārama?

Te Ao Mārama is a judicially-led kaupapa supported by the Ministry of Justice.  Iwi, communities and local service providers play a critical role in growing Te Ao Mārama. A tailored plan will be developed for each community, in partnership with local iwi, justice sector agencies (including Ara Poutama Aotearoa and New Zealand Police), the legal profession and other relevant government agencies and support services.

Where will we see Te Ao Mārama?

Te Ao Mārama is being grown first in the Hamilton and Gisborne courts, and ultimately will be in all District Courts across Aotearoa New Zealand. Other locations will be announced in due course.

Other resources

Budget 2022 Fact sheet (external link)

Press release: The Justice Sector’s Contribution to the Government’s Wellbeing Agenda (external link)

Press release: Transformative Te Ao Mārama model announced for District Court (external link)

Norris Ward McKinnon Annual Lecture 2020(external link)