Chief Justice of New Zealand

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Chief Justice of New Zealand
Kaiwhakawā Tumuaki o Aotearoa  (Māori)
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Helen Winkelmann 2014 (cropped).jpg
Dame Helen Winkelmann

since 14 March 2019
Style The Right Honourable
Nominator Prime Minister of New Zealand
Appointer Governor-General of New Zealand
Term length No set term, though retirement is mandatory at age 70
Formation5 February 1841
First holder Sir William Martin
Salary$514,000 [1]

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The Chief Justice of New Zealand (Māori : Te Kaiwhakawā Tumuaki o Aotearoa) is the head of the New Zealand judiciary, and presides over the Supreme Court of New Zealand. The Chief Justice of New Zealand is also the Chief Justice of Tokelau. [2] [3] Before the establishment of the Supreme Court in 2004 the Chief Justice was the presiding judge in the High Court of New Zealand, and was also ex officio a member of the Court of Appeal of New Zealand. The office is established by the Judicature Act 1908. [4]

Māori language Polynesian language spoken by New Zealand Māori

Māori, also known as te reo, is an Eastern Polynesian language spoken by the Māori people, the indigenous population of New Zealand. Closely related to Cook Islands Māori, Tuamotuan, and Tahitian, it gained recognition as one of New Zealand's official languages in 1987. The number of speakers of the language has declined sharply since 1945, but a Māori language revitalisation effort slowed the decline, and the language has experienced a revival, particularly since about 2015.

Supreme Court of New Zealand supreme court

The Supreme Court of New Zealand is the highest court and the court of last resort of New Zealand. It formally come into being on 1 January 2004 and sat for the first time on 1 July 2004. It replaced the right of appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, based in London. It was created with the passing of the Supreme Court Act 2003, on 15 October 2003. At the time, the creation of the Supreme Court and the abolition of appeals to the Privy Council were controversial constitutional changes in New Zealand. The Act was repealed on 1 March 2017 and replaced by the Senior Courts Act 2016.

Tokelau New Zealand territory in the Pacific Ocean

Tokelau is a dependent territory of New Zealand in the southern Pacific Ocean. It consists of three tropical coral atolls, with a combined land area of 10 km2 (4 sq mi). The capital rotates yearly between the three atolls. Tokelau lies north of the Samoan Islands, east of Tuvalu, south of the Phoenix Islands, southwest of the more distant Line Islands, and northwest of the Cook Islands. Swains Island is geographically part of Tokelau, but is subject to an ongoing territorial dispute and is currently administered by the United States as part of American Samoa.


The Chief Justice is first among equals among the judges of the Supreme Court. They also act in place of the Governor-General if one has not been appointed or if the appointee is unable to perform his or her duties. When acting in place of the Governor-General, the Chief Justice is known as the Administrator of the Government. [5]

Governor-General of New Zealand Representative of the monarch of New Zealand

The Governor-General of New Zealand is the viceregal representative of the monarch of New Zealand, currently Queen Elizabeth II. As the Queen is concurrently the monarch of 15 other Commonwealth realms, and lives in the United Kingdom, she, on the advice of her Prime Minister of New Zealand, appoints a governor-general to carry out her constitutional and ceremonial duties within the Realm of New Zealand.

The Chief Justice is appointed by the Governor-General, on the advice of the Prime Minister. [6] The current Chief Justice is Helen Winkelmann, who was appointed on 14 March 2019 to replace Dame Sian Elias, who had reached mandatory retirement. [7]

Prime Minister of New Zealand head of the New Zealand government

The Prime Minister of New Zealand is the head of government of New Zealand. The incumbent Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, leader of the New Zealand Labour Party, took office on 26 October 2017.

Helen Winkelmann New Zealand judge

Dame Helen Diana Winkelmann is the 13th and current Chief Justice of New Zealand, having been sworn in on 14 March 2019. She is the second woman to hold the position, following her immediate predecessor, Sian Elias.

List of Chief Justices

From 1841 to 1979 the Chief Justice served with the old Supreme Court (now called High Court of New Zealand), which was a superior court with final appeals made to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. From 1980 onwards the Chief Justice headed the current Supreme Court, which as acted as the highest court in New Zealand and final as court of last resort after 2004 replacing the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

High Court of New Zealand Court in New Zealand

The High Court of New Zealand is the superior court of New Zealand. It has general jurisdiction and responsibility, under the Senior Courts Act 2016, as well as the High Court Rules 2016, for the administration of justice throughout New Zealand. There are 18 High Court locations throughout New Zealand, plus one stand-alone registry.

Judicial Committee of the Privy Council judicial body in the United Kingdom

The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) is the highest court of appeal for certain British territories and Commonwealth countries. Established on 13 August 1833 to hear appeals formerly heard by the King-in-Council, the Privy Council formerly acted as the court of last resort for the entire British Empire, and continues to act as the highest court of appeal for several independent Commonwealth nations, the Crown Dependencies, and the British Overseas Territories.

No.ImageChief JusticeAssumed OfficeLeft Office
1 Martin William, Judge.jpg Hon. Sir William Martin 5 February 184112 June 1857
2Hon. Sir George Arney c.18581875
3 JamesPrendergast.JPG Hon. Sir James Prendergast GCMG1 April 187525 May 1899
4 Robert Stout, ca 1919.jpg Rt Hon. Sir Robert Stout GCMG25 May 189931 January 1926
5 Charles Skerrett.jpg Hon. Sir Charles Skerrett KCMG KC1 February 192613 February 1929
6 Michael Myers, New Zealand.jpg Rt Hon. Sir Michael Myers GCMG KC3 May 19297 August 1946
7Rt Hon. Sir Humphrey O'Leary KCMG KC12 August 194616 October 1953
8 Harold Eric Barrowclough (1954).jpg Rt Hon. Sir Harold Barrowclough KCMG CB DSO MC ED17 November 195317 January 1966
9Rt Hon. Sir Richard Wild GBE KCMG QC18 January 1966January 1978
10Rt Hon. Sir Ronald Davison GBE CMG QC3 February 19784 February 1989
11Rt Hon. Sir Thomas Eichelbaum GBE QC6 February 198916 May 1999
12 Sian Elias.jpg Rt Hon. Dame Sian Elias GNZM PC QC17 May 199913 March 2019
13 Helen Winkelmann 2014 (cropped).jpg Rt Hon. Dame Helen Winkelmann GNZM14 March 2019present

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  1. The Queen of New Zealand.
  2. The Governor-General or, while acting in the place of the Governor-General, the officer administering the Government
  3. The Prime Minister.
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  10. Ambassadors and High Commissioners in New Zealand and Chargés d’Affaires accredited to New Zealand.
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  13. Members of the House of Representatives. There is no established order of precedence over members of parliament in general, although each party has its internal ranking.
  14. Judges of the Supreme Court of New Zealand, the Court of Appeal and the High Court of New Zealand.
  15. Former Prime Ministers, former Speakers of the House of Representatives, former Chief Justices, and members of the Privy Council.
  16. Mayors of territorial authorities and chairpersons of regional councils, while in their own cities, districts and regions. In 1989, boroughs and counties were amalgamated into district councils. District mayors, and the Chatham Islands mayor could expect to be accorded this same precedence.
  17. The State Services Commissioner, Chief of Defence Force, Commissioner of Police, and Officers of Parliament .
  18. The Solicitor-General, Clerk of the House of Representatives, and Clerk of the Executive Council when attending a function involving the exercise of the position’s specific responsibilities.
  19. Chief executives of public service and non-public service departments.
  20. The Vice Chief of Defence Force, and Chiefs of Navy, Army and Air Force, and other statutory office holders.
  21. Consuls-General and Consuls of countries without diplomatic representation in New Zealand.
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Judiciary of New Zealand

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  1. Judicial Salaries and Allowances Determination (No 2) 2015
  2. "Tokelau Judicial Annual Report 2012 - 2013". Retrieved 3 March 2018.
  3. "Meeting the Chief Justice of Tokelau". Retrieved 3 March 2018.
  4. "Judicature Act 1908 No 89 (as at 01 March 2017), Public Act Contents". Parliamentary Counsel Office. Retrieved 3 December 2017.
  5. "Role of the Chief Justice". Courts of New Zealand. Retrieved 3 December 2017.
  6. "Appointing Judges: A Judicial Appointments Commission or New Zealand?". Ministry of Justice. September 2002. Retrieved 12 June 2008.