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High Court of New Zealand

High Court of New Zealand
Te Kōti Matua o Aotearoa (Māori)
Coat of arms of New Zealand.svg
Established 1841
Location Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and other main centres
Authorized by Senior Courts Act 2016
Decisions are appealed to Court of Appeal of New Zealand
Decisions are heard for appeals from
Number of positions 56
Website []
Chief High Court Judge of New Zealand
Currently The Hon Justice Venning
Since 2014
Coat of arms of New Zealand.svg
This article is part of a series on the
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The High Court of New Zealand is a superior court established in 1841.[1] It was originally called the 'Supreme Court of New Zealand', but was renamed in 1980[2] to make way for the naming of a new Supreme Court of New Zealand,[3] which first met in 2004.

The High Court has general jurisdiction and responsibility, under the Senior Courts Act 2016, as well as the High Court Rules, for the administration of justice throughout New Zealand. Jurisdiction extends over both criminal and civil matters, and deals with cases at first instance or on appeal from other courts and certain tribunals.[4]

Composition and locations

The High Court comprises the Chief Justice of New Zealand (who is head of the Judiciary) and up to 55 other Judges (which includes the Judges of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal). The administrative head of the court is known as the Chief High Court Judge. Associate Judges of the High Court (formerly known as Masters) supervise the Court's preliminary processes in most civil proceedings, and have jurisdiction to deal with summary judgment applications, company liquidations, bankruptcy proceedings, and some other types of civil proceedings.

The High Court Judges and Associate Judges are based in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, but also travel on circuit to Whangarei, Hamilton, Rotorua, Gisborne, New Plymouth, Napier, Whanganui, Palmerston North, Nelson, Blenheim, Greymouth, Timaru, Dunedin, and Invercargill. The Court also has registries in Masterton and Tauranga.

Wellington High Court in 2015



The High Court deals with the most serious types of criminal offences that exceeds the District Court's jurisdiction. It deals with all category 4 offences such as murder, manslaughter and treason, as well as any other offence where the accused is likely to be sentenced to life imprisonment or preventive detention. Serious category 2 and 3 "protocol" offences, such as aggravated wounding with intent, kidnapping or sexual violation of a child, may be transferred from the District Court to the High Court at the request of the prosecution or defendant. Most cases are heard before a judge and jury, but may sometimes also be heard before a judge alone.

Civil matters

The Court generally deals only with those civil claims that exceed the jurisdiction of the District Court or other courts and tribunals, or where particularly complex issues are involved. This jurisdiction includes matters concerning admiralty, company law, bankruptcy, the administration of estates and trusts, property transfer, land valuation, and many other areas.

Appellate function

Rights of appeal to the High Court exist against the decisions of the District Court (except for jury trials), the Family Court, the Youth Court and the Environment Court[5] and numerous administrative tribunals and regulatory bodies.

Judges of the High Court

The following are the judges of the High Court as of June 2017:[6]

Name Appointed Resident court Notes
Geoffrey Venning 2002 Wellington Chief High Court Judge (since 1 June 2015)
Paul Heath QC 2002 Auckland
John Fogarty QC 2003 Auckland
Patricia Courtney 2004 Auckland
Simon France 2005 Wellington
Graham Lang 2005 Auckland
Jillian Mallon 2006 Wellington
Peter Woodhouse QC 2007 Auckland
Alisa Duffy QC 2007 Auckland
Robert Dobson QC 2007 Wellington
Edwin Wylie QC 2008 Auckland
Joseph Williams 2008 Wellington
Rebecca Ellis 2009 Wellington
Timothy Brewer ONZM 2010 Auckland
Mary Peters 2010 Auckland
Mark Woolford 2010 Auckland
Christian Whata 2011 Auckland
Kit Toogood QC 2011 Auckland
David Collins QC 2012 Wellington
Sarah Katz 2012 Auckland
David Gendall 2013 Christchurch
Cameron Mander 2013 Christchurch
Rachel Dunningham 2014 Christchurch
Susan Thomas 2014 Wellington
Simon Moore QC 2014 Auckland
Matthew Muir QC 2014 Auckland
Ann Hinton QC 2014 Auckland
Gerald Nation 2015 Christchurch
Nick Davidson QC 2015 Christchurch
Rebecca Edwards 2015 Auckland
Karen Clark QC 2015 Wellington
Matthew Palmer QC 2015 Auckland
Paul Davison QC 2015 Auckland
Helen Cull QC 2016 Wellington
Mathew Downs 2016 Auckland
Sally Fitzgerald 2016 Auckland
Christine Gordon QC 2016 Auckland
Peter Churchman QC 2017 Wellington
Gerard van Bohemen 2017 Auckland
Pheroze Jagose 2017 Auckland

Australian sittings

The Federal Court of Australia Act 1976 (Cth) and the Judicature Act 1908 (NZ) authorise the High Court to sit in Australia and the Federal Court of Australia to sit in New Zealand. Orders of the High Court sitting in Australia are enforced by the Federal Court of Australia and orders of the Federal Court sitting in New Zealand are enforced by the High Court.


  1. ^ Supreme Court Act 1841 (NZ)
  2. ^ Judicature Amendment Act 1979 (NZ), s 12.
  3. ^ "History and role — Courts of New Zealand". Retrieved 2017-01-25. 
  4. ^ "New Zealand High Court". New Zealand Ministry of Justice, Tāhū o te Ture. Archived from the original on 2005-12-29. Retrieved 2006-01-31. 
  5. ^ Decisions of the Environment Court may only be appealed to the High Court on a point of law. Section 299 Resource Management Act 1991 (New Zealand)
  6. ^ "The Judges and Associate Judges of the High Court". Courts of New Zealand. Retrieved 29 June 2017. 

External links