Former Supreme Court Judges

Listed in order of date of appointment.

Rt Hon Justice Dame Sian Elias GNZM - 1 January 2004, retired 12 March 2019

Rt Hon Justice Sir Thomas Gault KNZM - 1 January 2004, retired 8 April 2006

Rt Hon Justice Sir Kenneth Keith ONZ KBE - 1 January 2004, retired 18 November 2005    

Rt Hon Justice Sir Peter Blanchard KNZM - 1 January 2004, retired 24 June 2012

Rt Hon Justice Sir Andrew Tipping KNZM - 1 January 2004, retired 21 August 2012

Hon Justice Sir John McGrath KNZM - 3 May 2005, retired 9 March 2015

Hon Justice Sir Noel Anderson KNZM - 16 February 2006, retired 5 May 2008

Justice Bill Wilson QC - 1 February 2008, resigned 5 November 2010

Hon Justice Sir Robert Chambers KNZM - 1 February 2012, died 21 May 2013

Hon Justice Sir Terence Arnold KNZM - 11 June 2013, retired 12 April 2017. Hon Justice Sir Terence Arnold is an acting judge of the Supreme Court. Acting judges

Reference to being appointed a Queens Counsel (QC) or appointed to the Privy Council (PC) can be found in the biographies.

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Rt Hon Justice Dame Sian Elias GNZM
(b. 13 March 1949)
Appointed 1 January 2004.  Retired 12 March 2019.

 
Photo - Supreme Court

Dame Sian Elias was educated at Titirangi Primary School and Diocesan School for Girls in Auckland.  In 1970, she graduated from Auckland Law School with an LLB (Hons) and was admitted to the bar. From 1986 until 1990 Dame Sian Elias served as a Law Commissioner. She became a Queen’s Counsel (QC) in 1988.  

In September 1995 she was appointed a judge of the High Court.

On 17 May 1999, at the age of 50, Dame Sian Elias was appointed the Chief Justice of New Zealand. The 12th Chief Justice of New Zealand and the first woman to be appointed to the role. 

She was appointed a member of the Privy Council (PC) on 9 August 1999.

In January 2004, Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias became one of the inaugural appointments to the Supreme Court of New Zealand.  She retired on 12 March 2019 at the age of 70 years, in accordance with s133 of the Senior Courts Act 2016. 

Biography and speeches from the Valedictory Sitting on 8 March 2019

Speeches published on the Courts of New Zealand website 2000 - 2019

Rt Hon Justice Sir Thomas Gault KNZM
(31 October 1938 - 19 May 2015)
Appointed 1 January 2004.  Retired 8 April 2006.

 

Photo- Hong Kong Court of Appeal

Sir Thomas Gault was educated at Wellington College and graduated from Victoria University of Wellington with a Master of Law.  In 1981 he began practising as a barrister sole and in 1984 he became a Queen’s Counsel (QC).

In December 1987, Sir Thomas Gault was appointed a judge of the High Court and in February 1991 became a judge at the Court of Appeal.  He was appointed President of the Court of Appeal in May 2002. 

In January 2004 Sir Thomas Gault became one of the inaugural appointments to the Supreme Court of New Zealand.  He retired from the permanent bench of the Supreme Court in 8 April 2006, so he could take up the position of Captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, Scotland.  Golf having been a passion since he was a teenager.  He had an acting warrant as a judge of the Supreme Court until 30 Oct 2013.

Rt Hon Justice Sir Kenneth Keith ONZ KBE
(b. 19 November 1937)
Appointed 1 January 2004.  Retired 18 November 2005.

 

Photo - Victoria University of Wellington

Sir Kenneth Keith was educated at Auckland Grammar School and studied law at the University of Auckland, Victoria University of Wellington and Harvard Law School.  In 1961 he was admitted to the bar and in 1994 he became a Queen’s Counsel (QC). 

In February 1996 Sir Kenneth Keith was appointed a judge of the High Court and of the Court of Appeal.  He was a judge of the Court of Appeal from 1996 – 2003. 

In 21 May 1998 he was appointed a member of the Privy Council (PC). 

In January 2004 Sir Kenneth Keith became one of the inaugural appointments to the Supreme Court of New Zealand. He retired on 18 November 2005.  The next year he became the first New Zealander to be elected to the International Court of Justice based in The Hague.  He served as a judge at the International Court of Justice from 2006 – 2015.

Rt Hon Justice Sir Peter Blanchard KNZM
(b. 2 August 1942)
Appointed 1 January 2004.  Retired 24 June 2012.

 
Photo - Supreme Court

Sir Peter Blanchard was educated at Kings College and graduated from the University of Auckland in 1968 with an LLM.  He was awarded Fulbright and Frank Knox Memorial Scholarships to study at Harvard Law School in 1969 where he obtained a second LLM.

In June 1994, he was appointed a judge of the High Court and in April 1996 he became a judge of the Court of Appeal.

On 21 May 1998 he was appointed a member of the Privy Council (PC).

In January 2004, Sir Peter Blanchard became one of the inaugural appointments to the Supreme Court of New Zealand.  He retired from the permanent bench of the Supreme Court on 24 June 2012 but with an acting warrant continued to sit until 2 August 2017. 

Rt Hon Justice Sir Andrew Tipping KNZM
(b. 22 August 1942)
Appointed 1 January 2004. Retired 21 August 2012

 
Photo - Supreme Court

Sir Andrew Tipping was born is Oxford, England.  He was educated at Cheltenham College, England and then at Christs College, in Christchurch, New Zealand.  In 1966, he graduated from the University of Canterbury with an LLM First Class Honours.

In October 1986, he was appointed a judge of the High Court and in June 1997 became a judge of the Court of Appeal.  

On 21 May 1998, he was appointed a member of the Privy Council (PC). 

In January 2004, Sir Andrew Tipping became one of the inaugural appointments to the Supreme Court of New Zealand.  He retired from the permanent bench of the Supreme Court on 21 August 2012 but with an acting warrant continued to sit until 22 August 2017.

Hon Justice Sir John McGrath KNZM
(10 March 1945 – 19 October 2018)
Appointed 3 May 2000.  Retired 9 March 2015.

 

Sir John McGrath was educated at Wanganui Collegiate School and graduated from Victoria University of Wellington in 1968 with an LLM. 

In 1987, he became a Queens Counsel (QC).  From 1989 - 2000 he was the Solicitor-General.

He was appointed a judge of the Court of Appeal in July 2000 and in May 2005 was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court.  

On 9 March 2015 he retired from the permanent bench of the Supreme Court but with an acting warrant he continued to sit until he died on 19 October 2018. 

Speeches from the final sitting for Justice McGrath – Supreme Court 6 March 2015

Hon Justice Sir Noel Anderson KNZM
(3 January 1944 – 6 October 2021)
Appointed 16 February 2006.  Retired 5 May 2008.

 

Sir Noel Anderson was educated at Takapuna Grammar and graduated from the University of Auckland with an LLB. He was admitted to the bar in 1967. In May 1986 he became a Queen’s Counsel (QC). 

A year later he was appointed a judge of the High Court in May 1987.  In September 2001, Sir Noel was appointed to the Court of Appeal.  From January 2004 – 2006 he was the President of the Court of Appeal.

In February 2006, with the pending retirement of Justice Gault he was appointed to the Supreme Court.  He retired from the permanent bench of the Supreme Court in May 2008 but with an acting warrant continued to sit until June 2014.

Sir Noel died on 6 October 2021.

Justice Bill Wilson QC
(b. 17 May 1946)
Appointed 1 February 2008.  Resigned 5 November 2010.

Photo - Supreme Court

Justice Bill Wilson graduated from Victoria University of Wellington with an LLB and LLM. He was a member of the Waitangi Tribunal from 1986 - 1995.

In 1996 he became a Queens Counsel (QC).

In February 2007 Justice Wilson was appointed a judge of the Court of Appeal.  A year later on 1 February 2008 he was appointed to the Supreme Court to replace Sir Kenneth Keith who was resigning. 

Justice Wilson resigned as a judge on 5 November 2010.

Hon Justice Sir Robert Chambers KNZM
(23 August 1953 – 21 May 2013)
Appointed 1 February 2012.  Died 21 May 2013

Justice Robert Chambers was educated at King’s College and graduated from the University of Auckland in 1975 with an LLB (Hons).  He attended Oxford University and in 1978 was awarded a DPhil.

In 1992 he became a Queen’s Counsel (QC).

In 1999 he was appointed a judge of the High Court and in January 2004 was appointed to the Court of Appeal.  On 1 February 2012 he became a judge of the Supreme Court.  

On 21 May 2013 Justice Chambers died unexpectedly.

Background Information

Privy Council

Queen’s Counsel Appointment Process