(Headline abbreviated, original headline: Justice Minister congratulates first Māori Supreme Court judge on New Year’s
Justice Minister Andrew Little has congratulated The Honourable Justice Joe Williams for receiving a knighthood for
services to the state.
Sir Joe Williams has been appointed as a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Year 2020 Honours
“Sir Joe Williams has made an immense contribution to the elevation of Māori voices in the justice system. This honour
is well-deserved,” Andrew Little says.
Sir Joe Williams was appointed the first Māori judge of the Supreme Court in 2019.
After graduating with an LLB from Victoria University in 1986, and an LLM (Hons) from the University of British Columbia
in 1988, Sir Joe Williams joined Kensington Swan and established the first unit specialising in Maori issues in a major
New Zealand law firm.
In 1999 he was appointed Chief Judge of the Māori Land Court; in 2000 he was appointed acting Chairperson of the
Waitangi Tribunal and was permanently appointed to the role in 2004.
“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.
“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,” says Andrew Little.
Sir Joe Williams’ tribal affiliations are Ngāti Pūkenga and Te Arawa (Waitaha, Tapuika).