The appointment of Justice Joseph Williams as the first Māori on the Supreme Court is something all New Zealanders should be proud of, says New Zealand Law Society President Tiana Epati.
“This is an historic appointment for Māori as tangata whenua, and for all of Aotearoa, New Zealand. He represents a new era which has arrived and serves as a powerful beacon of hope for any person who aspires to climb and stand at the very top of the mountain,” she says.
Justice Williams’ tribal affiliations are Ngāti Pūkenga and Te Arawa (Waitaha, Tapuika).
In 1999 Justice Williams was appointed Chief Judge of the Māori Land Court. The following year, he was appointed acting Chairperson of the Waitangi Tribunal and was permanently appointed in 2004.
He was appointed as a Judge of the High Court in 2008 and was the first fluent te reo Māori speaker to be appointed a Judge of the Court of Appeal in 2018.
“I would also like to congratulate David Goddard QC on his appointment to the Court of Appeal. A direct appointment to the Court of Appeal is rare, and he has made an enormous contribution to justice through his work in domestic and international law reform as well as chairing the Borrin Foundation Grants and Scholarship Committee,” Ms Epati says.