Minister reappoints members to Waitangi Tribunal

Māori Development Minister Hon Nanaia Mahuta has reappointed four members of the Waitangi Tribunal to maintain the continuity and security of its decision making.

Sir Sidney (Hirini) Moko Mead, Professor Rawinia Higgins and Dr Grant Phillipson have all been reappointed along with Chief Judge Isaac (Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu) who has been reappointed for a further five-year term as the Chairperson..  

“Chief Judge Isaac possesses the key attributes needed to fulfil this important role, He also has extensive experience from his time as a Chief Judge and Deputy Chief Judge. 

“The four Tribunal members collectively bring 33 years of invaluable skill and experience to the Tribunal and they all bring an enormous wealth of knowledge. 

“These appointments ensure that the Waitangi Tribunal can continue its crucial role in the Māori world,“ said Nanaia Mahuta. 

Media Notes  

Chief Judge Wilson Isaac – Chairperson of the Waitangi Tribunal  

  1. The Chief Judge was appointed to the Māori Land Court on 11 March 1994. In 1999, he was appointed Deputy Chief Judge and on 13 August 2008, he was appointed Chief Judge. In 2009 he was appointed as Chairperson of the Waitangi Tribunal.  
  2. He brings with him an extensive background in Māori land law and family law, and the vast experience he has gained from the previous 9 years as Chairperson of the Waitangi Tribunal.  
  3. He is now the Presiding Officer over the freshwater and veterans (kaupapa) inquiries. He has presided over the Tribunal’s Mōhaka ki Ahuriri, Te Tau Ihu o Te Waka a Māui and National Park hearings.


Sir Sidney (Hirini) Moko Mead – Mātauranga and Tikanga Māori

Sir Sidney (Hirini) Moko Mead was first appointed in 2003 and his warrant expired on December 2017.

Sir Sidney (Hirini) Moko Mead’s reappointment as an Mātauranga and Tikanga Māori member to the Tribunal is enhanced by his 12 years on the Tribunal. He is a respected authority and academic on Māori and Pacific art, tikanga Māori, Māori studies, Iwi and Treaty issues.

He was the founding Professor of Māori at Victoria University of Wellington and created the first department of Māori studies in Aotearoa New Zealand. He was responsible for building the first university-based marae on a mainstream campus – Te Herenga Waka Marae in Wellington.

Sir Sidney (Hirini) Moko Mead retired from Victoria University and established Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi at Whakatāne. He has a history of involvement in the area of Māori development, particularly in the fields of education, intellectual and cultural property rights and Treaty of Waitangi claims. He was the Chief Negotiator for the Ngāti Awa claims which were settled in March 2005. A final part of the settlement was the opening of Mataatua Wharenui in September 2011 in Whakatāne.

He is widely published and has held many academic appointments. He is an eminent social scientist, educationalist, and expert in tikanga Māori and a master carver. He is highly regarded by his peers and his leadership, knowledge, and experience are invaluable to the work of the Tribunal.

Sir Sidney (Hirini) Moko Mead is a panel member of the Te Rohe Pōtae District Inquiry and has been appointed as a co-mediator in the Ahuriri Hapū Deed of Settlement Urgent Inquiry. He has previously been a panel member for the National Park inquiry and the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 urgent inquiry.

Sir Sidney (Hirini) Moko Mead has been reappointed for a further two-years as a member for the Waitangi Tribunal.


Professor Rawinia Higgins – Historian Appointment

Professor Rawinia Higgins was first appointed in 2013 and her warrant expired on 1 January 2018.

Professor Rawinia Higgins reappointment as an historian member to the Tribunal is strengthened by her commitment to the regeneration of Māori Language and her fluency of te Reo Māori. She is a highly regarded and well respected academic and researcher with a strong background working in the Māori language tertiary education sector and research areas of te Reo and tikanga Māori, tā moko, Māori language literature, and Māori language planning and policy.

Professor Rawinia Higgins is currently the Professor of Te Kawa a Māui, School of Māori Studies and Assistant Vice Chancellor Māori Research at Victoria University of Wellington. She is the Co-Principal Investigator of Te Kura Roa a three-year Māori language research initiative examining both state and community responses to Māori language revitalisation efforts in Aotearoa New Zealand. She was also the Chair of the Māori Language Advisory Group set up to provide independent advice on the Māori Language (Te Reo Māori) Bill. She also leads the Whaihua – Community Responsiveness project in collaboration with Te Ataarangi and Te Kōhanga Reo. Professor Rawinia Higgins is a board member of Te Māngai Pāho. She has highly regarded academic, research and te Reo Māori skills and experience to contribute to the work of the Tribunal.

Professor Rawinia Higgins is currently a panel member for the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act urgent inquiry and Ngāti Wai mandate urgent inquiry.

Professor Rawinia Higgins has been reappointed for a further three-years as a member for the Waitangi Tribunal.


Dr Grant Phillipson – Historian Appointment

Dr Grant Phillipson was first appointed in 2011 and his warrant expired on 13 April 2018.

Dr Grant Phillipson is a professional historian with a PhD in history from the University of Otago, followed by a career of carrying out research, planning, and strategic management, and the provision of high-level historical advice to the Tribunal. 

His fellow members rely on his expertise in the consideration and analysis of large volumes of historical evidence put to the Tribunal and its inquiries. Dr Grant Phillipson is a highly valued member of the Waitangi Tribunal, and has also taken on a crucial role in assisting, supporting and mentoring other members and panels in their work at the Tribunal. His support in this area includes undertaking peer reviews and quality checking Waitangi Tribunal reports before they are finalised and published. 

Dr Grant Phillipson is currently a member of the Porirua ki Manawatū District inquiry panel and the National Freshwater and Geothermal Resources panel.

Dr Grant Phillipson has been reappointed for a further two-years as a member for the Waitangi Tribunal.