Jul 04

Semi Epati

Photo Credit: Otago University

Photo Credit: Otago University

Personal Life:

Judge A’e’au Semikueiva Epati (born in Samoa) is a former Judge to the Manukau District Court in New Zealand. Epati had been practicing law for almost 40 years and served as a judge for 10 years, before he retired in 2012.

Epati was the first Samoan and Pacific Island Judge in New Zealand.



Epati graduated from Otago University, New Zealand, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1970 and a Bachelor of Laws degree in 1974.


Professional Career:

Epati was admitted to the bar in 1974, but he returned to Samoa to work as a Senior Legal Officer. He later moved to Auckland in 1990, becoming very involved with the local Pacific Island community where he was a known motivational speaker for young people.

Epati has served throughout the Pacific, with admission to the bar in New Zealand, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Nuie, Vanuatu, Kiribati and Hawaii, including service as Attorney General of Nuie in 1995-1996 and Temporary Magistrate in Samoa in 1986.

Epati is a former President of the [Western] Samoa Law Society. He also served with distinction as a member of the Pacific Development and Conservation Trust from 1993-2001.

His services to the community include, giving his time to the Intellectually handicapped, editing the Samoa Star newspaper, hosting a radio show on Radio 531 PI, appearing regularly on television (Mary Lambie’s Good Morning Show, Tagata Pasifika), and serving on the board of Auckland Girls Grammar School.

On February 22, 2002, Judge Epati was sworn in as New Zealand’s first Samoan and Pacific Island judge in a ceremony at the Manukau District Court.

After 10 years of being a judge and nearly 40 years in the legal profession, Judge Epati retired from the Bench in April 2012.


Highlights and Awards:

  • First Samoan and Pacific Island Judge in New Zealand



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