‘Momentous’ time for new court judge

    Chief District Court Judge Heemi Taumaunu (left) swears in Judge Mike Mika at the Invercargill High Court on Monday.

    ‘‘WE know it’s a better world with Mike Mika at the helm.’’

    Those were the words of Miharo Murihiku Trust director Pauline Smith at the swearing in of district court Judge Mike Mika at the Invercargill High Court in Invercargill on Monday.

    In a ceremony which blended Samoan, Maori and European cultures, song and stories, the ceremony was about acknowledgement and thanks.

    In a packed court room, Judge Mika was sworn in by Chief District Court Judge Heemi Taumaunu.

    Judge Taumaunu said Judge Mika was entering a challenging time for district court judges as the judiciary system was about to go through a phase of meaningful change to the Te Ao Marama model which would enhance access to justice for everyone involved in the court system.

    “At the same time it should be an exciting and momentous time.”

    The ceremony acknowledged the work Judge Mika had done with the Miharo Murihiku Trust, ILT and ILT Foundation – and also his service as president of the James Hargest College Rugby Club.

    It also acknowledged his contribution to the community and the job he had done helping others.

    The words respect, integrity, commitment, humbleness, thoughtfulness and love were also used.

    Southland Crown solicitor and Preston Russell Law director Mary-Jane Thomas told how Judge Mika, who played rugby for Otago, Southland, the Highlanders and Manu Samoa, was employed because she thought he would play for the Blues Rugby Club, and help them to win the Galbraith Shield.

    “You did none of those things for me, but I forgive you.”

    Later, Judge Mika confirmed it wasn’t a misrepresentation when he failed to tell Ms Thomas about his shot knees, just an omission.

    Ms Thomas said he was also the one who took extra care with people.

    When her father became ill, Judge Mika gifted him his Samoan rugby jersey, and when she would leave early from a work function, Judge Mika would text, “all home safe boss?”.

    “I’m really going to miss you Sir, because I’m going to miss the face that I knew that made sure everyone got home safe.”

    She knew he would show integrity in his new role, especially when he was deciding on the future liberty of a person.

    Judge Mika acknowledged his parents, who had moved to New Zealand in the 1960s from Samoa, to find a better life.

    “Mum and dad, this day is about you and your sacrifices and the sacrifices that we will always acknowledge and be extremely grateful for.”

    He also thanked his wife Jane and son Jacob who would remain in Invercargill for the remainder of the year while his son finished high school.

    “Jacob, your mother and I are very proud of you son.

    “Thank you for being the best son a father could every hope for.”

    He described his wife as the rock of their family and the one who had always encouraged him to strive for more.

    “Without your love, I wouldn’t be about to do this.”

    Judge Mika will preside in the Lower Hutt District Court from next month.