Members of the Waitangi Tribunal

Waitangi Tribunal members

The Waitangi Tribunal has up to 20 members. They are appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Minister for Māori Development. Members come from all walks of life and are appointed for their expertise in the matters that are likely to come before them. About half the members are Māori and half are Pākehā.

The chairperson of the Waitangi Tribunal is Chief Judge Wilson Isaac of the Māori Land Court. The deputy chairperson of the Waitangi Tribunal is Deputy Judge Patrick Savage of the Māori Land Court. Other judges of the Māori Land Court, while not members of the Waitangi Tribunal, can be appointed as a presiding officer for a Tribunal panel.

A panel of three to seven members is appointed to carry out an inquiry. Each Tribunal panel has to have at least one Māori member.

Current Tribunal members:

Past members still serving on current inquiry panels:

Chairperson and deputy chairperson

Chief Judge Wilson Isaac

Ngāti Porou, Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Kahungunu

Chief Judge Wilson Isaac was appointed as chairperson of the Waitangi Tribunal in September 2009.  Educated at Saint Pauls Collegiate, Hamilton, and at Otago University, Chief Judge Isaac spent 17 years at Burnard Bull and Company, Gisborne, where he developed an extensive practice in Māori land law and family law.  He is the resident judge for the Tairāwhiti and Takitimu districts. He presided over the Tribunal’s Mohaka ki Ahuriri, northern South Island and National Park hearings and is currently presiding over the freshwater and veterans (kaupapa) inquiries.

Judge Patrick Savage

Whānau a Ruataupare

Judge Patrick Savage is the Deputy Chairperson of the Waitangi Tribunal. After acting as the Crown Solicitor for the Bay of Plenty he was appointed a judge of the Māori Land Court in 1994 and largely sat in Rotorua. Having reached the statutory retirement age in January 2016 he was immediately reappointed as an Acting Judge. He has presided over the Kiwifruit Export, Radio Spectrum, Taranaki Dairying and Te Urewera District claims. He is currently presiding over the Māori Reoffending claim which is about to commence hearings. He is the Chief Justice of Niue and a Judge of the High Court in the Cook Islands.

Other Māori Land Court judges

Other judges of the Māori Land Court can be appointed as presiding officers for particular inquiries. They become Tribunal members while in that role.

Find out more about Māori Land Court judges(external link)

Current members

Dr Robyn Anderson

Dr Robyn Anderson completed her doctorate at the University of Toronto, where she worked for a number of years before returning to New Zealand in 1991. In 1992, she joined the staff of the Crown–Congress Joint Working Party and prepared historical evidence underpinning the return of railways land to Wellington Māori. She undertook research projects for the Waitangi Tribunal and for claimants from the Hauraki, Kaipara, and Whanganui districts. From 2000 to 2003, Dr Anderson was the first history concept leader at Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand, where she led research and exhibition development for history and Pacific cultures. Dr Anderson was appointed to the Tribunal in 2004.

Dr Angela Ballara  

Dr Angela Ballara is one of New Zealand’s foremost academic authorities on Māori customary history. Her books include Taua: ‘Musket Wars', ‘Land Wars' or Tikanga? – Warfare in Māori Society in the Early Nineteenth Century (2003), Iwi: The Dynamics of Māori Tribal Organisation, c1769–c1945 (1998), and Proud to be White? A Study of Racial Prejudice in New Zealand (1986). Dr Ballara was a member of the team responsible for producing the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography and Nga Tangata Taumata Rau. She had particular responsibility for the Māori side to this project. Dr Ballara was first appointed to the Waitangi Tribunal in 2004.

Ron Crosby

Ron Crosby spent 30 years as a court lawyer particularly in Treaty related and Resource Management cases.  He is a hearings commissioner under the Resource Management Act 1991. He has written several books on New Zealand history, including The Musket Wars: A History of Inter-Iwi Conflict, 1806–1845 (1999), Gilbert Mair – Te Kooti’s Nemesis (2004), NZSAS: The First Fifty Years (2011), and Kupapa: The Bitter Legacy of Māori Alliances with the Crown (2015). Mr Crosby was appointed to the Tribunal in 2011. He retains a deep interest in NZ’s back country & history. His interest in te ao Māori is constantly reinforced by his whānau relationships - his wife Margy being of Te Rarawa and Te Aupouri descent.

Dr Aroha Harris

Te Rarawa, Ngāpuhi

Dr Aroha Harris lectures in history at the University of Auckland, where her projects reflect her interest in Māori and iwi histories of Māori policy and community development in the 20th century. Dr Harris has undertaken historical and social research for government departments, the Waitangi Tribunal, private organisations, and iwi. She continues to provide research advice to Te Rūnanga o Te Rarawa. Dr Harris is a founding member of Te Pouhere Kōrero, the national organisation of Maori historians, and the editor of their journal of the same name. She wrote Hīkoi: Forty Years of Maori Protest (2004), and co-authored Tangata Whenua (2014), a multi award-winning history of Māori. Dr Harris was appointed to the Tribunal in 2008.

Professor Rawinia Higgins 


Professor Rawinia Higgins was appointed Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Māori) / Tumu Ahurei of Victoria University of Wellington in 2016. She was previously Victoria’s Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Māori Research) and Head of School for Te Kawa a Māui / School of Māori Studies. Professor Higgins came to Victoria as a senior lecturer in 2009 after holding academic positions at the University of Otago for 12 years. Her research expertise is Māori language revitalisation and, more specifically, language planning and policy. Professor Higgins is a member of the Waitangi Tribunal, Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga (Māori Centre of Research Excellence), and is the Deputy-Chair of the Māori Knowledge and Development PBRF portfolio. Prior to this appointment, she was a board member of Te Mātāwai. In 2015, the Minister for Māori Development appointed her chair of the Māori Language Advisory Group which shaped the Māori Language legislation enacted in April 2016. Te Mātāwai was created as part of the new legislation and governs the Māori Language Strategy dedicated to whānau, hapū, iwi and Māori communities. In 2017, Rawinia was awarded the Te Waitī award for te reo and tikanga at the Matariki awards. In 2018, the Minister for Māori Development appointed her chair of the Māori Language Commission, Te Taura Whiri.  Professor Higgins is the first woman to be appointed to this position.

Dr Ruakere Hond

Taranaki, Te Ati Awa

Dr Ruakere Hond is a longstanding advocate of te reo Māori and a key supporter of the Parihaka community. He has held several leadership roles in Māori language organisations, including Te Reo o Taranaki, Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi and Te Ataarangi. He has served two terms as a member of the Te Taura Whiri i te reo Māori and is currently a Board member of Te Mātāwai, which leads implementation of the Maihi Māori language strategy. He was instrumental in working to achieve reconciliation between the Crown and the Parihaka community. In 2013, Dr Hond completed a PhD in public health with a focus on Māori language revitalisation, community development approaches, and intergenerationally sustainable health outcomes. He is currently undertaking a post-doctoral fellowship on innovative Māori public health research that directly informs interventions to improve health outcomes for Māori. It also involves working with Taranaki Māori communities to build health research capacity and capability.

Prue Kapua

Te Arawa

Ms Prue Kapua is the principal of Tamatekapua Law and has an extensive background in resource management and the Treaty sector. She has supported whānau, hapū and iwi claimants in several Waitangi Tribunal inquiries. She was a member of the Refugee Status Appeals Authority, Deputy Chair of the Medical Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal and a director of First Health NZ Ltd (a Southern Cross NZ Ltd subsidiary). In 2000, the Minister of Health appointed her to represent the interests of Māori women in the Gisborne Cervical Cancer Inquiry. She also advised the Ministry of Health on its Treaty policy in respect of a national screening programme. She has been a member of the Ministry of Health’s National Kaitiaki Group and an external specialist adviser on legal aid funding for Waitangi Tribunal claims. She is currently the co-Chair of Oranga Tamariki Māori Design Group and Chair of the Interim Te Ropu on Family Violence, Sexual Violence and Violence within Whanau. She is the current president of the Māori Womens Welfare League and a trustee of Māori Women’s Development Inc.


Professor Sir Hirini Moko Mead DCNZM

Ngāti Awa

Professor Sir Sidney (Hirini) Moko Mead was the founding professor of Māori at Victoria University of Wellington and created the first department of Māori studies in the country. He was responsible for building the first university-based marae on a mainstream campus – Te Herenga Waka Marae at Wellington. After retiring from Victoria University, he established a tribal university, Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiarangi, at Whakatane among his people of Ngāti Awa. Sir Hirini was the chief negotiator for the Ngāti Awa claims, settled in March 2005. He has written many books, including Tikanga Māori: Living by Maori Values (2003). He was appointed to the Waitangi Tribunal in 2003.

Basil Morrison CNZM JP

Originally a dairy farmer at Hikutaia (where his family still farm), Basil Morrison has served in local government since January 1971. He was chairperson of the Ohinemuri County Council from 1983 until 1989, when he became inaugural mayor of the Hauraki District Council. Mr Morrison retired from the mayoralty in 2004. He served on the Waikato Regional Council from 2004 to 2007, and was president of Local Government New Zealand from 2000 until 2008. Currently, Mr Morrison chairs the Local Government Superannuation Board, is a Director of Civic Assurance and Civic Property Pool and is the Honorary Consul of Uganda in New Zealand.  Mr Morrison is an independent hearing commissioner under the Resource Management Act 1991 for the Auckland Council and the Thames Coromandel District Council.  Mr Morrison was appointed to the Tribunal in 2008.

Kim Ngarimu

Ngāti Porou

Kim Ngarimu has an extensive public service career dating back to the early 1990s. After leaving Te Puni Kōkiri in 1999, she worked in the office of the Auditor-General as a sector manager and co-directed her management and public policy consulting company, serving in 2004 as acting director of the Waitangi Tribunal. Between 2007 and 2013, she held the position of deputy secretary policy at Te Puni Kōkiri, and in 2012 she served as acting chief executive of the Ministry of Women. She is currently self-employed as a consultant and a professional governor, serving on a number of boards including the Medical Council of New Zealand, Capital & Coast District Health Board, and Heritage New Zealand.

Dr Ann Parsonson

Dr Ann Parsonson is a senior New Zealand historian. She lectured for many years in history at the University of Canterbury and is currently Adjunct Senior Fellow in the School of Humanities and Creative Arts (History) at Canterbury. She has been a research associate at the Centre for Māori Studies and Research, University of Waikato, and Senior Research Fellow at the Waikato Endowed College, Hopuhopu. Dr Parsonson has worked with Ngāi Tahu, Ngā Iwi o Taranaki, and Waikato iwi in the preparation of their Treaty claims, providing major historical reports. Her publications are on New Zealand history, Māori history, and Treaty history. Dr Parsonson was appointed to the Tribunal in 2001, and has been Historian member on a number of major district historical inquiries.

Dr Grant Phillipson

Dr Grant Phillipson's professional involvement with the Waitangi Tribunal began in 1993 as a commissioned researcher. In 1995, he was appointed research manager and, two years later, chief historian. He held that role until his appointment to the Tribunal in 2011. Dr Phillipson has written numerous research and historical reports, commissioned by the Waitangi Tribunal, the New Zealand Māori Congress–Crown Joint Working Party, and the Crown Forestry Rental Trust. As chief historian, Dr Phillipson was responsible for supervising the Tribunal's commissioned research programme and providing research and report writing advice to numerous Tribunal panels. Dr Phillipson has published academic papers on questions relating to the church in nineteenth century New Zealand, Treaty history, the Waitangi Tribunal, and Māori land.

Associate Professor Thomas Roa

Ngāti Maniapoto, Waikato Tainui

Tom Roa is Associate Professor at Te Pua Wānanga ki te Ao/The Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies at Waikato University. He is an expert in translation between te reo Māori and English and the oral and written history of Waikato-Tainui, Ngāti Maniapoto and the Kīngitanga. He has researched and contributed to a wide range of publications on a Māori classificatory regime for flora and fauna and traditional ecological knowledge, the theory and practice of translating from and into te reo Māori, Māori men’s health and Māori military history. Associate Professor Roa has served for many years in Te Kauhanganui, the Waikato-Tainui parliament, including as its chairperson. He has also been a member and chairperson of Te Arataura, the Waikato-Tainui executive board, and is a Justice of the Peace.

Tania Simpson

Tainui, Ngāpuhi, Ngāi Tahu

Tania Simpson is founder and Chair of Māori development company Kōwhai Consulting. She is a director of Auckland International Airport, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, Ngai Tahu Tourism and Tainui Group Holdings, and a Trustee of Maniapoto FM. She holds a Master Mātauranga Māori from Te Wānanga o Raukawa. Ms Simpson has held senior policy roles in Government, is an accredited fellow with the Institute of Directors, and has been awarded Order of the Taniwha 2nd class by King Tūheitia. She was appointed to the Tribunal in 2008.

Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith

Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Porou

Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith is Professor of Māori and Indigenous Studies at the University of Waikato. Professor Smith has a distinguished academic career. She has led many of the developments in Māori and Indigenous research, establishing research centres, building international networks and mentoring researchers.  She is known for her work on decolonizing and Indigenous Methodologies and Kaupapa Māori Research. Professor Smith was joint founding Director of Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga, the Māori Centre of Research Excellence and a former President of the New Zealand Association of Research in Education. Professor Smith is a member of the Waitangi Tribunal. She has served on a number of governance boards including the Health Research Council. She has received a number of Awards including a New Zealand Honour as Companion to the New Zealand Order of Merit. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand and of the American Education Research Association. In 2017 she received the Prime Minister’s Lifetime Achievement Award in Education. In 2018 she received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Winnipeg, Canada and the Te Puawaitanga Research Excellence award, the highest honour from the Royal Society of New Zealand for research in Māori and Indigenous knowledge.

Dr Monty Soutar ONZM

Ngati Porou, Ngati Awa, Ngai Tai, Ngati Kahungunu

Dr Monty Soutar is a senior historian with Manatu Taonga / The Ministry for Culture and Heritage. He has worked widely with iwi and Maori communities, in particular while writing Nga Tama Toa (David Bateman, 2008), which told the story of C Company of 28 (Maori) Battalion in the Second World War. Currently he is leading a digital project on Treaty of Waitangi settlements in New Zealand. He has been a teacher, soldier and university lecturer and has held a number of appointments on national advisory boards, including the Archives NZ Council, the Guardians of the Alexander Turnbull Library and the First World War Centenary Panel. His latest publication Whitiki! (David Bateman, 2019) focuses on Maori participation in the First World War.


Professor Pou Temara

Ngāi Tūhoe

Professor Pou Temara is professor of reo and tikanga at the University of Waikato. He is a recognised authority on Māori customary practice and whaikōrero, having taught at Victoria University as a senior lecturer and at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi as associate professor and as head of the faculty of Mātauranga Māori. He is a director of Te Panekiretanga o te Reo, the Institute of Excellence in the Māori Language, where he teaches and researches whaikōrero, karanga, and tikanga. As a member of the Tūhoe Waikaremoana Māori Trust Board, Professor Temara made several submissions during the Tribunal’s Te Urewera hearings. He has experience in dispute resolutions, mediating between the iwi of Taranaki during their claims to the Tribunal. Professor Temara is the chairperson of Te Hui Ahurei a Tūhoe and the Repatriation Advisory Panel to Te Papa and has written widely on issues currently affecting Māori. Professor Temara was appointed to the Tribunal in 2008.

Past members still serving on current inquiry panels


John Baird

John Baird has been managing director of several major consumer product businesses and a non executive director of a number of public and private companies. He holds a MA from Oxford University (where he was a Rhodes scholar) and has a BA in Maori Studies from Auckland University. Mr Baird was appointed to the Tribunal in 1999.

Dame Margaret Bazley

Dame Margaret Bazley has held senior leadership roles in the health and state sector for more than 50 years. She was Commissioner and Deputy Chairperson of the State Services Commission in the 1980s, where she was involved in the formation of State Owned Enterprises and the development of the State Sector Act. She was Secretary for Transport from 1988 to 1993, Director-General of the Department of Social Welfare, Chair of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology from 2001 to 2007, and a member of the Waitangi Tribunal from 2001 to 2011. She was Commissioner of the Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct, a member of the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance, and Chair of the Review of the Legal Aid System. Most recently, Dame Margaret has been Chair of Environment Canterbury and Registrar of Pecuniary and Other Specified Interests of Members of Parliament. She has received a numerous honours and awards including the Sir Peter Blake Leadership Award in 2011 and an Honorary Doctorate of Literature from Massey University in 2008. Dame Margaret was made a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 1999 and later made an additional member of the Order of New Zealand in 2012.

Tim Castle

Tim Castle is in private practice as a barrister. He graduated with a bachelor of laws from Victoria University in 1973. Mr Castle was counsel for the New Zealand fishing industry between 1987 and 1992, and following the 1992 settlement of Māori commercial fishing claims he was retained as legal counsel for Te Ohu Kaimoana (the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission). He was chairperson of New Zealand's statutory tribunal with jurisdiction in fishing quota appeals from 1996 to 2005. Mr Castle has assisted both iwi and the Crown in Treaty settlement negotiations. In 2014 and 2015 he was appointed by iwi representative leaders to undertake a comprehensive independent statutory review of the commercial governance and management structures for the iwi stake in Māori fisheries, with a view to necessary changes (now endorsed by iwi) to those arrangements for the future. He is the first Australasian member of the International Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland, was New Zealand representative on the International Cricket Council's Corruption Commission and Appeals Commission, and is a member of the New Zealand Sports Tribunal. He was first vice president and chairperson and board member of the New Zealand Olympic Committee from 1994 – 2000 and a board member of the New Zealand Sports Foundation. Currently Mr Castle is a board member of Drug Free Sport New Zealand, and chairs the Pacific Games Tribunal.

David Cochrane

David Cochrane is a Special Counsel at the national law firm Simpson Grierson, specialising in public and commercial law. He has more than 40 years’ experience as a lawyer in central government and private practice. His experience extends to law drafting here, including legislation implementing the Māori fisheries settlement in 2004, and legislation for Fiji, Vanuatu, Kiribati, and Samoa. He had extensive involvement in the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011 and the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014. He is a member of the Commonwealth Association of Legislative Counsel and the External Committee of the Legislation Design Advisory Committee. He was a member of the New Zealand Law Society’s Law Reform Committee (2005–2015) and the Legislation Advisory Committee until its abolition in 2015. He was appointed to the Tribunal in 2014.

The Honourable Sir Douglas Kidd KNZM

The Honourable Sir Douglas Lorimer Kidd was educated at Ohau School, Horowhenua College, and Victoria University, where he graduated with an LLB in 1964. In the period 1960–64 he served in 22 Battery, Royal New Zealand Artillery, Territorial Force. After being admitted to the Bar as a barrister and solicitor, he joined the Blenheim law firm of Wisheart, Macnab and Partners in 1964 and practised as a partner until 1979. He was elected to the Marlborough Catchment and Regional Water Board in 1978 and appointed by the government to the National Water and Soil Conservation Authority in 1976. He resigned both positions on entering Parliament as the member for Marlborough in 1978. In 1990, Sir Douglas became Minister of State-Owned Enterprises, Minister of Fisheries, and Associate Minister of Finance, and he also chaired the Cabinet Expenditure Control Committee. In 1991, he was made Minister of Māori Affairs, retaining the Fisheries portfolio. He was appointed to the Fisheries, Energy, and Labour portfolios, was the chairperson of the Expenditure Control and Revenue Committee following the 1993 general election, and from 1995 served on the ACC portfolio. During most of his parliamentary career he was associated with the Territorial Force in his area, his final appointment being as Honorary Colonel of the Canterbury Nelson Marlborough Regiment in the period 1997–2003. He was made Speaker in 1996 and became a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in June 2000, redesignated Knight Companion in  August 2009. Sir Douglas was appointed to the Tribunal in 2004.

Kihi Ngatai QSM

Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui

Kihi Ngatai is a respected kaumatua with extensive community involvement throughout the Tauranga area. Mr Ngatai has expert knowledge of te reo and tikanga Māori, especially in regard to Tauranga whakapapa, mōteatea, and waiata. He runs a busy orchard and has served on the Bay of Plenty Conservation Board and as a kaumatua adviser for numerous Tauranga organisations, including Mount Maunganui College, Tauranga Girls’ College, and CCS Bay of Plenty. Mr Ngatai was appointed to the Tribunal in 2008.

Dr Hauata Palmer

Ngāi Te Rangi

Dr Hauata Palmer is a well-respected kaumātua from Ngāi Te Rangi. He holds an honorary Doctorate in Philosophy. Dr Palmer worked for the Department of Māori Affairs for several years before returning home to become chairperson of Ngāi Te Rangi Iwi Rūnanga. Dr Palmer held that role for 11 years, leading into his iwi’s Treaty settlements. He has been on judging panels for reo awards for Māori radio and Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, and a member of the Kaunihera Kaumatua for Māori television. He remains a keen advocate for te reo Māori. Dr Palmer was appointed to the Tribunal in 2015.

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