Apparently one or two appointments will be made to the Supreme Court within the next year. I have no idea who will be appointed but I would like to see Justice Joe Williams considered. Williams is Maori, but that is not the sole reason why he should be appointed. Appointments should be based on merit and merit alone. However, were a situation to arise where one has two equally qualified candidates, one of whom happens to be Maori, then a compelling case exists to appoint the Maori. As far as I am aware Williams is a well respected legal mind. As former Chief Judge of the Maori Land, former head of the Waitangi Tribunal, the first Maori law lecturer at Victoria and current High Court Justice, Williams is most certainly qualified.
From my quick research into William’s background I think it is fair to say he is undeniably Maori in outlook, yet conscious and accepting of the fact that Maori must operate under a Pakeha framework. He is realistic. I would classify Williams as something of a tino rangatiratanga advocate, however not in an ideological sense. He does not believe in Maori self government and all those other unrealistic expectations and desires. Rather he believes in the pragmatic notion of tino rangatiratanga – enhanced wellbeing as opposed to self rule.
Ultimately, the decision on who to appoint sits with the Attorney-General. I am fairly confident Justice Williams will not be overlooked by either Chris Finlayson or, if Labour is in power, David Parker. It is something of an anomaly that in New Zealand, in 2011 might I add, that Maori are absent in both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.