Chief Justice of New Zealand

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Chief Justice of New Zealand
Kaiwhakawā Tumuaki o Aotearoa  (Māori)
Coat of arms of New Zealand.svg
Sian Elias.jpg
Dame Sian Elias

since 17 May 1999
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
Formation 5 February 1841
First holder Sir William Martin
Salary $514,000[1]

Coat of arms of New Zealand.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
New Zealand

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]

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]

The Chief Justice is appointed by the Governor-General, on the advice of the Prime Minister.[6] The current Chief Justice, Dame Sian Elias is the first woman to hold the office, and was appointed on the advice of the first female Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jenny Shipley.[7]

Chief Justices[edit]

No. Image Chief Justice Assumed Office Left Office
1 Martin William, Judge.jpg Hon. Sir William Martin 5 February 1841 12 June 1857
2 Hon. Sir George Arney c. 1858 1875
3 JamesPrendergast.JPG Hon. Sir James Prendergast GCMG 1 April 1875 25 May 1899
4 Robert Stout, ca 1919.jpg Rt Hon. Sir Robert Stout GCMG 25 May 1899 31 January 1926
5 Charles Skerrett.jpg Hon. Sir Charles Skerrett KCMG KC 1 February 1926 13 February 1929
6 Michael Myers, New Zealand.jpg Rt Hon. Sir Michael Myers GCMG KC 3 May 1929 7 August 1946
7 Rt Hon. Sir Humphrey O'Leary KCMG KC 12 August 1946 16 October 1953
8 Harold Eric Barrowclough (1954).jpg Rt Hon. Sir Harold Barrowclough KCMG CB DSO MC ED 17 November 1953 17 January 1966
9 Rt Hon. Sir Richard Wild GBE KCMG QC 18 January 1966 January 1978
10 Rt Hon. Sir Ronald Davison GBE CMG QC 3 February 1978 4 February 1989
11 Rt Hon. Sir Thomas Eichelbaum GBE QC 6 February 1989 16 May 1999
12 Sian Elias.jpg Rt Hon. Dame Sian Elias GNZM PC QC 17 May 1999


  1. ^ Judicial Salaries and Allowances Determination (No 2) 2015
  2. ^ "Tokelau Judicial Annual Report 2012 - 2013". Retrieved 2018-03-03. 
  3. ^ "Meeting the Chief Justice of Tokelau". Retrieved 2018-03-03. 
  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. 
  7. ^ "Elias - top judge and judicial activist". New Zealand Herald. 28 March 2005. Retrieved 3 December 2017. 

External links[edit]