Supreme Court gets a Maori judge – and Landcorp (more quietly) gets a new director

Attorney-General David Parker – probably  to the acclaim  of  some of his colleagues – last week, announced the appointment of Justice Joseph Victor Williams to  the Supreme Court. Justice Williams, whose tribal affiliations are Ngāti Pūkenga and Te Arawa (Waitaha, Tapuika),  is the first  Maori  to be named to  the bench of  NZ’s  highest court.

An appointment to the Supreme Court was required after current Supreme Court judge Justice Sir William Young was named to chair the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the attack on the Christchurch mosques on  March 15.

Justice Williams graduated with an LLB from Victoria University in 1986 and joined the faculty as a junior lecturer in law.

He graduated with an LLM (Hons) from the University of British Columbia in 1988. That year he joined Kensington Swan, establishing the first unit specialising in Māori issues in a major NZ law firm and developing a large environmental practice.

He became a partner at Kensington Swan in 1992, leaving in 1994 to co‑found Walters Williams & Co in Auckland and Wellington.

In 1999 Justice Williams was appointed Chief Judge of the Māori Land Court.  The following year, he was appointed acting chairperson of the Waitangi Tribunal and was permanently appointed in 2004.

He was appointed as a Judge of the High Court in 2008 and a Judge of the Court of Appeal in 2018.

Parker    also   announced  Wellington QC David Goddard has been appointed a Judge of the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

The excitement generated among Parker’s colleagues by these appointments almost certainly obscured  the  naming  of a  new  director   of  Landcorp.

Doug   Woolerton,  for  12 years  a Member of Parliament MP  and the  most  loyal   of lieutenants  to  NZ  First   leader   Winston Peters  in that period, is  set to  join  the  board  of the state-owned farming enterprise.

Before   he entered   Parliament  Woolerton had been  an influential  figure in  Federated  Farmers. He clearly   knows the farming  business and – even  though he is  75   – his  energy   levels   remain as  strong as those of    his  former  boss.

Point of Order  is aware this might be construed as a  cushy  retirement   job but the  evidence  points to  some  thinking   within  NZ  First  that  Landcorp has been diverging   too  far  from   its primary  task.

It is generally understood that Landcorp’s current   Minister,  Shane Jones, has enjoined  the  state-owned  enterprise  to be a  successful   pastoral  farmer, prioritising  its core on-farm  operations.

He wants  Landcorp to boost profits  while also improving  environmental practices .  And he has urged  the board  to identify  more land for  his  billion-tree programme.

Jones has also lowered the boom on Landcorp’s  plans to invest   in off-farm value-adding  activities.  Instead,  any of those existing  activities    must be moved  into a  subsidiary  company.

That  could come  as a   disappointment to the  current  board  and its  chief  executive,   Steve Carden,   who  have been  talking  up  the need  to focus  on  “alternative”  dairy  foods .

Carden  said  last year  – at the time the  SOE  announced  its  2018 result, a net profit  of  $34.1m – Landcorp’s focus on producing premium products is about transitioning  it beyond commodity products which fluctuate greatly in price.

Our goal is leadership and excellence across our farms and broader land use activities while also producing a range of specialty food and fibre products that command consistent margins. For example, positioning Pāmu’s products to align with growing consumer demand for ‘alternative’ dairy foods.

“ ‘Alternative’ dairy foods produced from organic milk, sheep milk, deer milk, and plant milks require an evolution in how we farm and what we produce. We expect our focus on these opportunities will become a greater contributor to our business over time.”

 This was an exciting time to be in the dairy industry, Carden said.

Let’s see if Woolerton agrees and to what extent.

One thought on “Supreme Court gets a Maori judge – and Landcorp (more quietly) gets a new director

  1. Re asking Landcorp to find more land for Shane Jones to plant trees on – about 5 years ago much of the land between Whakamaru and Kuratau was pine forest both sides of the road.
    It has now been turned into dozens of Landcorp dairy farms.
    So much for carbon credits and our ‘clean, green image!



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