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Maori Party congratulates Justice Joe Williams

Maori Party congratulates Justice Joe Williams

Hon Tariana Turia and Dr Pita Sharples, Co-leaders

11 September 2008

The Maori Party congratulates Joe Williams, Chief Judge of the Maori Land Court and Chairperson of the Waitangi Tribunal, on his appointment to the bench of the High Court in Auckland.

"Joe Williams stepped into the very big shoes of Justice Eddie Durie in 1999, and over the past nine years he has filled them very well indeed," said co-leaders Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples.

"Joe developed a profound interest in Treaty jurisprudence and case law, right from his days as a law student at Victoria University in 1985, when he helped frame WAI 11, the ground-breaking claim in respect of te reo by Nga Kaiwhakapumau i te Reo and the NZ Maori Council," said Dr Sharples.

"As a lawyer, Treaty law was his forte, through the turbulent years of the fisheries litigation in particular, and the claim by Te Whanau o Waipareira, in which Joe was lead counsel for the claimants," he said.

"Joe presented claims to the Waitangi Tribunal, and cases to the High Court, Court of Appeal, and the Privy Council in London.

"All these cases tested the boundaries of the meaning of the Treaty, the extent of customary rights, and in particular, the capacity of Maori organisations to achieve the tino rangatiratanga of their people in a wider society," said Dr Sharples.

Mrs Turia said the breadth of Joe's experience has given him a wisdom and a sense of realism about the critical issues of our time - the ability and the critical need for the Treaty partners to live together constructively and productively.

"Joe's command of te reo Maori, and his willingness to embrace tikanga, has inspired the confidence of tangata whenua in his ability to stand astride the dividing lines in our society," said Mrs Turia. "Just look at the benefits that the te reo Maori claim has brought to all the people of Aotearoa over the past thirty years."

"Treaty law is not a narrow subject - it's all about relationships. Joe's personal warmth and humility, and his ability to see the wider picture, will suit him ideally to be a Judge of the High Court," she said.

"We congratulate this son of Ngati Pukenga and Te Arawa, and we hope his people will continue to guide him through this new territory which he will claim as his own."

"E te rangatira, kia maia, kia mau ki nga tikanga tuku iho a Kui ma, a Koro ma, kia pumau ki te arohanui ki te tangata, i to piki haeretanga ki nga taumata teitei o te ture. Ko ta te rino i tukituki ai, ma te rino ano e hanga; ko ta te ture i haehae ai, ma te ture ano e whakatika, no reira atawhaitia to iwi whanui o Aotearoa i to mahi hou. Kia ora."

ENDS

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