Justice minister highlights contributions of first Māori Supreme Court judge after knighting

Andrew Little says Sir Joe Williams "reflects New Zealand in the 21st century"

Justice minister highlights contributions of first Māori Supreme Court judge after knighting

Justice Minister Andrew Little has congratulated the nation’s first Māori Supreme Court judge on receiving knighthood.

Sir Joseph Victor Williams, Ngāti Pūkenga and Te Arawa (Waitaha, Tapuika), has been appointed as a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the state.

“Sir Joe Williams has made an immense contribution to the elevation of Māori voices in the justice system. This honour is well-deserved,” Little said. “Sir Joe Williams has brought a unique blend of legal intellectual rigour and tikanga Māori to his present role, and so reflects New Zealand in the 21st century.”

Williams earned his LLB from Victoria University in 1986 and his LLM (Hons) from the University of British Columbia two years later. He joined Kensington Swan and established the first practice in a major New Zealand law firm specialising in Māori issues.

He was appointed as chief judge of the Māori land court in 1999. A year later, he became acting chairperson of the Waitangi Tribunal, before being appointed permanently to the role in 2004.

“Having been a Judge of the High Court since 2008, and of the Court of Appeal since 2018, it was only fitting he became a judge of the Supreme Court earlier this year, and now is a worthy recipient of this knighthood,” Little said.

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