Justice Joseph Victor Williams (Ngāti Pūkenga, Te Arawa) has been appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of New Zealand.
The appointment was required after current judge Sir William Young was named to chair the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terror attack on the Christchurch Mosques.
In 1999, Williams was appointed Chief Judge of the Māori Land Court. The following year, he was appointed acting chair of the Waitangi Tribunal before being permanently appointed in 2004.
The Minister of Māori Development Nanaia Mahuta says she's delighted that Williams will be sitting in the country’s highest court, considering his background in Māori and environment law.
“It’s a great step to have Justice Williams with his encyclopaedic knowledge of the Treaty of Waitangi and Māori land law on the Supreme Court bench, she says.
“Justice Williams will be able to look at Treaty law in a very contemporary context."
He was appointed as a judge of the High Court in 2008 and a judge of the Court of Appeal in 2018.
Williams graduated with an LLB from Victoria University in 1986 and joined the faculty as a junior lecturer in law.
He graduated with an LLM (Hons) from the University of British Columbia in 1988.
In 1988 he joined the law firm Kensington Swan, establishing the first unit specialising in Māori issues in a major New Zealand law firm and developing a large environmental practice.
He became a partner at Kensington Swan in 1992, leaving in 1994 to co‑found Walters Williams & Co in Auckland and Wellington.