Minister for Māori Development, Willie Jackson announced today the appointment of Alana Thomas, Ngāpuhi, as a Judge of Te Kooti Whenua Māori – the Māori Land Court.
Minister Jackson said Ms Thomas (pictured) was a champion for the benefits of a Māori perspective within the legal system.
“If we think of someone who is strong, is fighting for Māori issues in law, who is passionate about Māori culture, who is committed to Māori language, there’s no doubt that’s her,” he said.
“It’s the essence reflected in the whakataukī: Toi te kupu, toi te mana, toi te whenua. A call to hold fast to our culture for without our language; without the land; without the spirit of being tangata whenua; our essence would be diminished.”
The Minister said Ms Thomas had a broad depth of experience in practicing law and is currently the Director of her own legal company.
She has predominantly been involved in Māori legal issues representing clients in the Māori Land Court and Māori Appellate Court as well as representing a number of iwi, hapū, whānau claimants in Waitangi Tribunal historical, kaupapa and urgent inquiries. She is also Co-ordinating Counsel in a number of these inquiries.
She has been involved in several Waitangi Tribunal inquiries, appeared before the Māori Land Court, and previously worked at the Whangarei Māori Land Court.
Ms Thomas is a member of Te Hunga Rōia Māori o Aotearoa (The Māori Law Society) and a past president of Te Rākau Ture (Māori Law Students Association).
Prior to practising law, she worked as a Deputy Registrar at the Māori Land Court in Whangarei. Alana is fluent in Te Reo Māori and is a strong advocate for the use and promotion of Te Reo Māori within the law.
Mr Jackson said Ms Thomas brings a wealth of valuable experience to her appointment as a Judge of Te Kooti Whenua Māori.
“The Māori Land Court continues to play a fundamental role supporting whānau to thrive by enabling whānau to connect with, use and manage their whenua.”
“Ms Thomas’ appointment will make a valuable contribution to the knowledge and leadership of the current bench,” Minister Jackson said.