Faumui Penelope sworn in as Judge in New Zealand

A Samoan woman has been sworn in as a Judge of the Manukau District Court in New Zealand, making her the second Samoan woman to preside over a New Zealand Court. 

Faumui Penelope Ginnen was sworn in on Friday. She has roots in Safune, Tufutafoe, Leauva’a and Lefaga.

She is only New Zealand's third Pasifika judge, after Justices Ida Malosi and Soana Moala and the fifth Pacific Judge, after justices Ae'au Semi Epati and Mina Wharepouri.

The Auckland barrister will be based in Manukau and will also have jurisdiction as a Judge of the Family Court, New Zealand's Attorney-General David Parker announced.

Justice Ginnen started her legal career at New Zealand legal firm, Russell McVeagh, and was admitted as a barrister and solicitor in 1991.

In an interview with The Coconet TV, Justice  Ginnen said she was honoured by the appointment and proud to be following the trail blazed by inspirational Samoan women before her, including Justice Ida Malosi, the first Samoan woman judge in New Zealand, and Justice Mata Tuatagaloa, the first Samoan woman justice in Samoa. 

"I feel affirmed that the work that has been important to me throughout my career has been recognised as important in this role: the well-being of children, social justice, indigenous rights and responsibilities, fighting inequity," she said. 

"I have had the loveliest messages celebrating my appointment. 

"I am struck by how connected Pacific people are; people who I haven’t met yet have sent messages about how pleased they are, that my Pacific success is theirs."

Justice Ginnen said she thought about her parents most of all when she was appointed, saying their sacrifices made it possible for her to take up a post such as District Court Judge.

"My mother, Fuatino Siainiu Matalavea Heath, who had the courage to move to New Zealand at an impossibly young age from Safune, Savai'i on a scholarship; to pursue an education [and] her parents and siblings [who] sacrificed a huge amount to make possible for her," she said in the interview. 

Apart from an impressive legal resume, Faumiuina also has extensive corporate governance experience. 

She currently serves on the boards of Auckland District Health Board; Vaka Tautua; Emerge Aotearoa; Brainwave Trust Aotearoa; Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra; Bruce Pulman Park Trust; the Community Advisory Group to the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Courts; the Independent Advisory Group to Precision Driven Health; and Waka Hourua Maori and Pacific Suicide Prevention Program. 

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