The Chief Judge for the Māori Land Court is Chief Judge Wilson Isaac.
The Māori Land Court also has a Deputy Chief Judge and resident Judges in most Māori Land Court districts. These Judges are all appointed by the Governor-General.
Judges of the Māori Land Court are also Judges of the Māori Appellate Court.
Chief Judge Wilson Isaac
Deputy Chief Judge Caren Fox
Judge Andrew Spencer
Judge Glendyn Carter
Judge Patrick Savage
Judge Layne Harvey
Judge Stephanie Milroy
Judge David Ambler
Judge Craig Coxhead
Judge Stephen Clark
Judge Sarah Reeves
Judge Michael Doogan
A complete list of Judges of the Native Land Court and Māori Land Court from 1864 to 2009 is available on this site. Read More…
Ngāti Porou, Ngāi Tūhoe Ngāti Kahungunu
Chief Judge Wilson Isaac was appointed to the Māori Land Court in 1994. In 1999, he was appointed Deputy Chief Judge of the Court and on 13 August 2009, he was appointed Chief Judge. He is also the resident judge at the Gisborne office and presides over the Tairawhiti and Takitimu districts. Chief Judge Isaac presided over the Mohaka ki Ahuriri and Northern South Island Waitangi Tribunal hearings and is currently presiding over the National Park inquiry for the Waitangi Tribunal. Judge Isaac is the current Chief Judge of the Māori Land Court and the Chairperson of the Waitangi Tribunal.
Photograph courtesy of Mana magazine
Deputy Chief Judge Caren Fox (née Wickliffe) was appointed in 2000 as a judge of the Māori Land Court resident in the Tairawhiti and Waiariki districts. She was also appointed as an Alternate Environment Court judge in 2009. Prior to her first appointment as a judge, she had been a lecturer in law at Victoria University, and a Senior Lecturer in law and Director of Graduate Studies at the University of Waikato. In addition, she acted as legal counsel for Treaty claimants and Māori land clients.
A specialist in international human rights, Judge Fox was a Harkness Fellow to the USA from 1991 to 1992 and a Pacific Fellow in Human Rights Education employed by the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation 1997-1999. For her work in human rights she won the NZ Human Rights Commission 2000 Millennium Medal.
Judge Fox has been a presiding officer for the Aquaculture claims, the Te Arawa Mandate and Settlement claims and the Central North Island Stage 1 claims. She is currently the presiding officer for the Porirua ki Manawatu claims.
Judge Andrew Spencer attended Northland College in Kaikohe and Kamo High School in Whangarei before attending the University of Otago where he graduated with a B.A in 1969. After two years as a secondary school teacher at Rawene and Motatau District High Schools in Northland he returned as a married student to the University of Otago to complete an LLB degree.
Judge Spencer was admitted to the Bar in 1975 and commenced practice as a barrister and solicitor on his own account in Kaikohe in 1977.
During his 10 years in practice as a lawyer from offices in Kaikohe and Paihia, Judge Spencer gained considerable experience in civil, criminal and Māori Land Court litigation and in rural and commercial conveyancing. In 1987 he was appointed Judge of the Māori Land Court in Taitokerau.
In 1989 Judge Spencer presided in the hearing of the Te Roroa Claim in the Waitangi Tribunal which delivered its report in 1992. During his tenure as the Judge in Taitokerau he has presented submissions to Parliamentary Select Committees on behalf of the Court and numerous papers to professional organisations and hui on matters concerning development and utilisation of Māori land. Assisted by kaumatua and kuia the Court has sat on marae throughout Taitokerau. To keep Maoridom informed of matters concerning their land Judge Spencer published a newsletter which was distributed with the Court’s monthly panui for a period of 10 years until a bi-monthly newsletter (Te Pouwhenua) was published from the national office of the Court.
Judge Carter served as Judge of the Waikato-Maniapoto District resident in Hamilton from 1989 to 2002. He also acted as presiding officer of the Waitangi Tribunal in the Te Ika Whenu Rivers claim.
On his retirement he was issued with a temporary warrant and has since acted in a relieving capacity at Court sittings and been involved in special projects for the Court.
Judge Carter has also served as acting Chief Justice of the High Court of Samoa, as Judge of the Land and Titles Court of Samoa, as a Judge of the Cook Islands Court of Appeal and recently of the Niue Island Court of Appeal.
Te Whānau a Ruataupare
Judge Patrick Savage took up his appointment to the Māori Land Court bench in 1995 and is the resident judge for the Waiariki district. Formerly, he was the Crown solicitor for the Bay of Plenty. Judge Savage has presided over the Waitangi Tribunal hearings for the kiwifruit export and radio spectrum claims. He is currently the presiding officer for the Urewera inquiry district.
Ngāti Awa, Rongowhakaata, Te Aitanga a Māhaki, Te Whānau a Apanui, Ngāti Kahungunu
Judge Layne Harvey was appointed to the Māori Land Court bench in October 2002. He is the resident judge for New Plymouth, Hawera, Whanganui, Levin, Palmerston North, and Wellington, in the Aotea Māori Land Court District. He is based in Rotorua.
Formerly, he practised for 11 years as a lawyer in Auckland with Simpson Grierson and with Walters Williams and Company, where he became a partner. His work included acting for iwi and hapū in Waitangi Tribunal claims and settlement negotiations, providing general advice to Māori organisations, and working in trust law and iwi legal and post-settlement governance structures. Judge Harvey has also been a trustee of Māori land trusts, iwi authorities, and Māori reservations and has been a member of the council of Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi since 1997.
Tūhoe, Ngāti Whakaue
Judge Stephanie Milroy was appointed to the Māori Land Court for the Waikato–Maniapoto district in 2002 and in May 2010 was appointed as Deputy Chairperson of the Waitangi Tribunal. Formerly, she was a senior lecturer in law at Waikato University and prior to that she was an associate partner at Harkness Henry and Co, Barristers and Solicitors, and senior investigating solicitor at the Commercial Affairs Department in Hamilton.
Judge Milroy has considerable knowledge of Treaty and Māori legal issues through her research and lecturing. She has also presented and published numerous articles on Māori topics.
Judge David Ambler graduated from the University of Auckland in 1989 with a Bachelor of Arts in Māori studies and a Bachelor of Laws (Hons). Upon admission to the Bar in 1990, Judge Ambler began practice as a staff solicitor with Kensington Swan in Auckland. In 1992, he moved to Rotorua, where he practised as a staff solicitor with East Brewster, becoming a partner in 1997. He was appointed to the bench of the Māori Land Court in June 2006.
Judge Ambler advised and represented clients in relation to a range of Māori land issues and acted for a number of Māori trust boards, Māori land trusts, and incorporations. He also represented clients in a number of Waitangi Tribunal inquiries, including those concerning Hauraki, Urewera, Wairarapa ki Tararua, and the Central North Island. He is fluent in te reo Māori. He is the presiding officer for the Te Rohe Pōtae District Inquiry.
Ngāti Makino, Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Maru
Judge Coxhead graduated from Waikato Law School with a LLB Honours in 1994 was admitted to the bar in 1995 and completed a LLM in 2000. Judge Coxhead worked in private practice with McCaw Lewis Chapman working mainly in the area of Treaty of Waitangi work, Māori Land issues, Criminal and general civil litigation. Following private practice Judge Coxhead was a senior lecturer at the University of Waikato School of Law lecturing in both graduate and post graduate courses. He was appointed to the Mäori Land Court bench in 2008 and is a judge in Rotorua and Presiding Officer for the Te Paparahi o Te Raki inquiry. He is a former president of Te Hunga Roia Mäori o Aotearoa – the New Zealand Māori Law Society.
Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Hauā
Judge Stephen Clark was appointed to the Māori Land Court for the Waikato-Maniapoto District in January 2008. He has been appointed as an Alternate Environment Court judge since 2009. Judge Clark began practice initially as a law clerk with Sellar Bone and Partners in Auckland in November 1987. He worked for that firm until February 1990. He then joined McCaw Lewis Chapman, Solicitors of Hamilton, in February 1990. Judge Clark was with that firm for 18 years until his appointment. He became a litigation partner in that firm in 1996. Judge Clark’s practice was exclusively in litigation. Prior to his appointment Judge Clark acted for a number of whānau, hapū and iwi, Māori land trusts and incorporations. He also appeared in a number of District Inquiries before the Waitangi Tribunal. Judge Clark is a foundation member and former president of Te Hunga Roia Māori o Aotearoa – the New Zealand Māori Law Society.
Judge Sarah Reeves was appointed to the Māori Land Court in September 2010, and presides in the Te Waipounamu district.
Judge Reeves graduated with an LLB from Otago University and was admitted to the bar in 1985. She has practiced in New Zealand, Rarotonga, Singapore and Hong Kong, specialising in commercial and property law. Immediately prior to her appointment to the bench she acted as senior in-house counsel for the Auckland City Council.
Judge Doogan graduated from Massey University with a Bachelor of Arts in 1983, and from the University of Otago with a Bachelor of Laws in 1986. He commenced work as a judges’ clerk in Hamilton in 1986, and worked in both private practice and local government in Wellington before moving to England in 1990. Between 1990 and 1995 Judge Doogan worked in private practice in England, before returning to New Zealand to work with Simpson Grierson in Wellington. In 1998 Judge Doogan joined the Crown Law Office’s Treaty Issues and International Law Team. From 2005 until his appointment Judge Doogan has been in practice as a barrister sole in Wellington. He has extensive experience in both the Waitangi Tribunal and Māori Land Court.