Log In

Reset Password

New chief judge on women’s day

Opinion Piece

Michael Cullen’s wages and a unique record for football attracted attention last week, but the highlight was a change in one of the most prestigious offices in the country.

How appropriate that in the week in which International Women’s Day was marked that the role of chief judge of the Supreme Court should be handed over from Dame Sian Elias, the first woman to hold the position, to Dame Helen Winkelmann.

When Dame Sian was made chief judge of the High Court in 1999 there was considerable comment, but this time the appointment of a woman was not considered significant or unusual.

All the speakers paying tribute to Dame Sian were women, including New Zealand’s first woman Solicitor General Una Jagose QC.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, while recognising the significance, pointed out that New Zealand women still face high levels of domestic violence and a gender pay gap that has proved stubbornly difficult to remove.

In the year that New Zealand will recognise the 250th anniversary of the landing here of Lieutenant James Cook it is interesting that the Cook Islands is looking for a name that more reflects its Polynesian heritage. Incidentally, the islands were first named San Bernardo by the Spanish explorer who sighted them in 1595. That name is unlikely to be considered.

It is another sign of the way that Cook’s image is being questioned in the Pacific and in this country, including by some who appear to ascribe all the harms of colonisation to the British explorer.

National continued its attacks on the proposed Capital Gains Tax, focusing on the fact that Tax Working Group head Sir Michael Cullen is receiving $1026 for a six-hour day and will continue to do so until June, although the group’s recommendations have been presented to the Government.

And finally that football record. The hapless All Whites coach Fritz Schmid is in charge of an All Whites team about to go a year without a game, and none planned in the June international window. Surely this has never happened in New Zealand’s sporting history. At least he can say his team is unbeaten.