City lawyer now Rotorua judge

Judge Melinda Broek (left) is sworn in by Judge Jacquelyn Moran during a special sitting of the...
Judge Melinda Broek (left) is sworn in by Judge Jacquelyn Moran during a special sitting of the Dunedin District Court yesterday afternoon. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
The District Court’s newest judge might be sad to leave her southern roots behind but her move north will be a spiritual homecoming of sorts.

Dunedin lawyer Melinda Broek was sworn in during an auspicious ceremony yesterday — laden with magnificent waiata — before she travels to Rotorua to sit there.

Of Ngai Tai descent on her mother’s side, Judge Broek had family in the region and looked forward to "an instant connection to the people".

A powerful, beautiful karanga to open the mihi whakatau had the newest member of the judiciary fighting back tears from the outset.

And she said it was just as difficult to keep her emotions contained when she received the phone call about her appointment several months ago.

Judicial poise was a work in progress, she said.

Yesterday’s ceremony attracted not only the bulk of the local legal community and Queen’s Counsel, but also judges from further afield including the Chief District Court Judge Heemi Taumaunu and Principal Family Court Judge Jackie Moran.

Judge Moran said Judge Broek was "the real deal — strong, tough and smart".

"A wahine Maori with much to contribute."

The new judge, she said, had a reputation of being firmly grounded — "humble with great empathy".

The Mataura-born woman’s "impeccable southern credentials" were also acknowledged.

Judge Broek, a University of Otago graduate who started her career in Invercargill followed by stints in England, has specialised in family law since becoming a barrister sole in 2013.

She would miss her work and miss the city.

"It’s working with people and reassuring them through periods of vulnerability," she said.

"I love Dunedin; that’s why I came back here."

What sort of judge would she be?

"I know the judge I want to be," the judge said. "Considerate, inclusive, respectful and relatable."

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