Judge Kaiwhakawā

Judges listen to court cases and make decisions on matters of law.

Judges may do some or all of the following:

  • enforce the rules during court cases
  • listen to the evidence of witnesses and the arguments of lawyers
  • make rulings on what evidence may be used
  • guide juries on the law
  • come to decisions on legal cases or receive the decisions of juries
  • pass sentence on people who are convicted
  • write decisions on court cases
  • sit on tribunals to help solve disputes
  • decide custody and access disputes.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for judges includes:

  • work as a barrister and/or solicitor
  • legal advisory work
  • work for the Ministry of Justice
  • work at parliament drafting new laws.

Personal Qualities

Judges need to be:

  • mature and responsible
  • honest and fair
  • accepting of public scrutiny
  • trustworthy
  • able to interpret and analyse information.


Judges need to have knowledge of:

  • New Zealand law and legal history
  • how the court system operates
  • other judges' decisions 
  • possible culture, gender and society issues that may affect court hearings
  • management and leadership skills, so they can keep order in the court.



  • usually work regular business hours
  • work in offices and courts
  • may travel between courthouses in a region to hear cases.

Subject Recommendations

A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter further training. Useful subjects include English, history and classical studies, te reo Māori and social studies.

Judges can earn around $370K-$578K per year.

Pay for judges varies depending on the court they work in and how senior they are. Judges have tenure (a fixed wage that cannot be decreased) to ensure they remain impartial.

Judges usually earn $370,000 to $578,000 a year.

Judges also receive an allowance for general expenses as part of their salary.

Source: Parliamentary Counsel Office, 'Judicial Officers Salaries and Allowances (2022/23) Determination 2022', 2023.

Judges may progress from District Court judge to positions in higher courts such as the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.

Judges may also progress to impartial positions within government such as Governor-General.

Years Of Training

11 years of training usually required.

To become a judge you need to:

  • hold a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) and have completed a Professional Legal Studies course
  • have at least seven years' experience as a solicitor and/or barrister
  • be of good character
  • have a good knowledge of the law and what justice means in present-day New Zealand.

Most judges are chosen from partners and directors of law firms or Queen's Counsels.

People wishing to become judges need to apply or be nominated to the Attorney-General's Judicial Appointments Unit.