Ex-Samoa attorney-general commences as first-ever NZ national public defender

Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff previously recorded a stint with the Crown at Meredith Connell

Ex-Samoa attorney-general commences as first-ever NZ national public defender

Former Attorney-General of Samoa Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff has commenced as the first-ever National Public Defender of New Zealand.

In this role, Retzlaff joins the New Zealand Public Defence Service’s senior leadership team. He will helm the legal management of around 160 lawyers and 10 offices, including branches in Christchurch, Wellington, Hawkes Bay, Tauranga, Hamilton and Auckland.

He will also serve as counsel to community members charged with crimes.

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“This is a team of gifted, dynamic and hardworking lawyers and support staff, and it is a privilege to be given the opportunity to work with them as we carry out this important responsibility within the Justice sector”, Retzlaff said in a media release by the Public Defence Service.

After finishing his service in Samoa, Retzlaff joined the Crown Solicitor's Office, Kayes Fletcher Walker. He has been the public defender for Waitakere since February 2021. His career in the New Zealand legal profession started with the Crown at Meredith Connell in 2005; he then moved to the public defence service in 2009.

He began his four-year term in Samoa in 2016.

“Hermann displays all the competencies required of an excellent leader. He is humble, collaborative, and values focused. He has excellent legal competencies and is a strategic and reflective thinker. He has established strong working relationships and will be an asset to the PDS leadership team”, director of operations and performance Elaine Hines said.

Retzlaff officially took on his new role this week.

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