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Prisoner's rights

Before prison: The criminal court process

Te reo Māori and NZ Sign Language in court

Can I speak te reo Māori in court?

Māori Language Act 2016, s 7

Yes, the Māori Language Act gives you the right to speak te reo Māori in all courts in New Zealand, including the High Court, the District Court, the Family Court, the Youth Court and the Māori Land Court/Te Kōti Whenua Māori.

You can also speak te reo in a range of tribunals, including the Waitangi Tribunal, the Tenancy Tribunal and the Disputes Tribunal.

Can I ask that my entire hearing be conducted in te reo Māori?

Māori Language Act 2016, s 7(2)

No, you don’t have the right to require other people to speak or respond to you in te reo Māori. However, any answers or questions put to you can be translated into te reo for you.

Who will arrange the interpreter?

Māori Language Act 2016, s 7(3), 40, Schedule 6

The court or tribunal will organise an interpreter for you.

Only qualified interpreters of the highest standard are used. They must hold a certificate issued by the Māori Language Commission (Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori).

The court or tribunal will arrange payment for the interpreter. You don’t have to pay.

How do I tell the court I want to speak Māori?

Criminal Procedure Rules 2012, r 1.9; District Court Rules 2014, r 1.15; Family Court Rules 2002, r 131; High Court Rules 2016, r 1.11

If you are in a criminal or civil case in the District or High Court, or a Family Court case, you’ll need to complete a Notice of Intention to Speak Māori form. You can get a copy of this form from your local court or Community Law Centre, or from the Ministry of Justice website (www.justice.govt.nz/publications).

When you fill out the form, you’ll need to identify your iwi so that the most appropriate interpreter can be arranged.

For more information, see the chapter “Te reo Māori” in the Community Law Manual

Can I use NZ Sign Language in the courts?

New Zealand Sign Language Act 2006, s 7

Yes, you have the right to use NZSL in any court. This includes tribunals and other bodies. You need to let the judge know in advance so they can organise an interpreter.

The court or tribunal will arrange payment for the interpreter. You don’t have to pay.

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Before prison: The criminal court process

Where to go for more support

Community Law

www.communitylaw.org.nz

Your local Community Law Centre can provide initial free legal advice and information.

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