Supreme Court judges change robes

by Sol Dolor03 Nov 2017
Newly designed ceremonial robes have been adopted by the judges of the Supreme Court of New Zealand.

Replacing the full-bottomed wigs and red robes inspired by those that were used to be worn by the judges of the High Court of England and Wales, the new ceremonial robes better reflect New Zealand traditions and history, the Judicial Office for Senior Court said.

The UK’s Supreme Court has already replaced the full-bottomed wigs and red robes its judges used to wear. The judges felt that the ceremonial dress are anachronisms that are inappropriate in New Zealand conditions today, the office said.

The new robes were designed by Ros Bignell, a Wellington-based artist, who was tasked to adapt the traditional black gowns worn by barristers and judges in order to “reflect our common law heritage, by incorporating elements which position the [Supreme Court] in New Zealand and draw on our own heritage,” the office said.

As it is the same design used in the ceremonial robes of the judges of the UK Supreme Court, the new design shows New Zealand’s common law heritage, the office added. However, the silk-and-cotton robes also reflect New Zealand’s unique culture.

“Instead of a traditional English design, it features a stylised kauri cone and leaves in the black on black weave, to represent the country of New Zealand and the shelter of the law. New Zealand’s distinctive heritage under the Treaty of Waitangi is reflected in a poutama pattern trim in red, black and gold,” the office said.

“Embroidered shoulder wings feature the three baskets of knowledge of Maori tradition set in fern fronds, representing the common law method which is to work with knowledge of the past and an eye to the knowledge of the future, while adding the insights of the present when responding to the needs and questions of today.”

The Supreme Court’s new ceremonial robes

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