Building a pathway for a better future

Judge Ida Malosi, the country’s first female Pasefika judge, spoke at length about building confidence towards innovative responses in restorative pathways.

She pointed out that with so many Maori and Pasefika politicians in Aotearoa these days, the time was right to get things done.

At the moment, she said there was the Chief District Court Judge, who was Māori, flanked by the Principal Youth Court Judge, a Samoan woman (Judge Malosi) .

When they laid their heads down at night, it had to be in the knowledge that they were satisfied with what they had done and confident about their cultural/innovative practices.

‘’This is a really challenging space that we occupy and there is still so much work to do,’’ Judge Malosi said.

‘’But ... someone will always be there to follow the legacy.’’

The responsibility of the current leaders was to impart knowledge, to let people know that while their cultural responses were seen as innovative in the Palagi world, they were, for Pacific people, ‘’sacred’, and it was their job to pass them from generation to generation, to make them of their time, but still true to who they were as people.

‘’Our people have been telling us ‘Justice people don’t know what you are doing,’ and in an appropriate way we are acknowledging that the system does not work for our people,’’ she said.

‘’By that I mean our people come into the system and exit, either the same or often worse. So how do we create a system where somebody comes into court and actually leave knowing what went on, and of the view that they were treated fairly. They might not like the outcome but (at least) they understand what happened.’’

Judge Malosi said the solution had to include everyone – the people working at the coalface and the people trapped in the justice system.

‘’It has to be a given, in any just system, that people are held to account. We know, through our healing practices, that you cannot truly heal until you believe that you have made right a wrong you have created,’’ she said.

So, the question was, how to encourage communities to stand up.

‘’That’s where you all come in,’’ she told the Fono participants.

‘’You can tell us what the community connections are for the person we are trying to create a community for.’’

Judge Malosi accepted that it wouldn’t be easy to facilitate change, admitting that she had a least ‘’one scary moment’’ every day stepping into spaces she would rather not, but it was vital to build confidence to fill those spaces.

‘’There is nothing you can do except just put one foot in front of the other, be fearless, look to examples,’’ she said.

‘’Reach out when you need to reach out. I encourage you to reach out to one another. People occupy positions, but ask me who I am, and I will say I am the daughter of migration.’’

She said while she would always want people to honour that migrant story, maybe it was time, and that change was coming.

‘’We need to start talking about experiences ... embracing the successes. How we can make it better and easier for the generations to come and we need to be strategic about how we use all this power,’’ Judge Malosi said.

‘This may be that point in time when we look back and think ‘we knew this work was urgent,’ and we came away from that conference with an increasing sense of urgency. This is a changing of the guard.’’

With that in mind, she urged the next generation not to wait to be invited into the space, but to get involved, and she promised that she, and others would be there to give support.

‘’Change is coming. It’s why I took up the challenge of being the Principal Youth Court Judge at a pretty challenging time. Because I want to be sure they (youth) are not left behind,’’ she said.

‘’So as long as I turn around and see our young people I can keep going forward. So always look in your rear vision mirror for our young people and be bold about stepping forward. Perhaps for a moment you will lose them, but so long as you know they are coming keep going and let them know that we are always there.”

“We come from the people, we belong to the people, we are the people” (Judge Ida Malosi)"

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