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June 9, 2021

New guidance explicitly permits wearing of taonga in Court

The Chief Justice has issued interim guidance explicitly permitting the wearing of taonga (in this context meaning ”a decorative item of special Māori cultural significance that is worn around a person’s neck) in all courts.

The guidance follows barrister Mana Taumaunu wearing a taonga in place of a tie in the Gisborne District Court in February of this year.  Newsroom reports that the Court gave Mr Taumaunu permission to do so, but advised that to continue he would “have to take it up with higher judicial authority.”  Following the hearing, NZ Law Society President Tiana Epati posted a photo of Mr Taumaunu to LinkedIn and wrote to the Chief Justice regarding the issue.  

Mr Taumaunu told Newsroom he was “inspired” by his uncle Rawiri Waititi, co-leader of Te Paati Māori, who was ejected from the first sitting day of Parliament for attempting to speak in the debating chamber while wearing a taonga in place of a tie.  Speaker Trevor Mallard had indicated that he would not call on Mr Waititi while he was not wearing a tie, which was expected as part of “appropriate business attire” for males according to a 2003 review of the Standing Orders. Following a subsequent meeting of the Standing Orders committee the requirement for ties to be a part of “appropriate business attire” for males was removed.  

Chief Justice Winkelmann’s “interim guidance” is to last until the New Zealand Law Society’s 2009 Etiquette Guidelines for Counsel in Court (which were developed in consultation with the courts) can be updated.