Photo / FIle
Ngāti Pukenga ki Manaia celebrated one of its best and brightest at the weekend with Supreme Court judge Sir Joe Williams's investiture.
Governor-general Dame Patsy Reddy knighted Justice Joe Williams at Manaia marae on the Coromandel Peninsula, during a wet and windy hui hosted by the tribe and attended by a who’s who of Māori and Pākehā.
Sir Joe Williams studied te reo Māori and law at Victoria University of Wellington and received an LLM (Hons) from the University of British Columbia where he studied indigenous rights. In 1999, at the age of 38, he became the youngest person to be appointed Chief Judge of the Māori Land Court. As a lawyer, he led major treaty claims for iwi that included Māori fisheries and the Māori language. He became the Waitangi Tribunal chair in 2004 and four years later he was made a Justice of the High Court. In 2017 he became the first te reo Māori speaker appointed to the Court of Appeal.
Sir Joe is also well-known as the lead singer of the Māori band Aotearoa and its 1985 hit, Maranga Ake Ai.
As the first Māori Supreme Court Judge, Sir Joe has been hearing the posthumous Peter Ellis appeal, asking lawyers to consider tikanga Māori in their deliberations. In a Stuff report, he stated that his vision for New Zealand law is for a time when judges will develop a hybrid law of Aotearoa that fuses tikanga Māori and New Zealand’s common law tradition.