Our Leadership Team consists of a team of Managers, Justice Services and Registrars from our regional network of offices who are responsible for delivering the day-to-day service across the country. The team consists of:
- Steve Gunson Pae Matua, Director Waitangi Tribunal and Māori Land Court
- Claire Stirling-Hawkins, Pae Ārahi o Te Rāwhiti - Tairāwhiti (Gisborne), Tākitimu (Hastings) and Te Waipounamu (Christchurch)
- Don Cameron, Pae Ārahi o Te Raki - Te Taitokerau (Whangārei) and Waikato Maniapoto (Hamilton)
- Graeme Vercoe, Pae Ārahi o Te Rito - Waiariki (Rotorua) and Aotea (Whanganui)
- Riana Curtis, Pae Ārahi o te Tiratū - MLC Performance Team (Wellington)
- Judy Powell, Pae Ārahi o Te Waharoa (Auckland)
- Steve Dodd, Te Kairēhita Matua - Chief Registrar
- Pirihira Cribb, Puna Hāpai
Ngāti Toarangatira, Te Ātiawa
Steve Gunson brings a wealth and breadth of experience to the role of Pae Matua | Director Waitangi Tribunal and Māori Land Court.
Steve is a seasoned public sector leader with experience across a broad range of operational, policy and service design responsibilities. Having joined the Ministry of Justice in 2007 he has worked across the organisation in various leadership roles and jurisdictions including the Waitangi Tribunal Unit, Māori Land Court, Tribunals Unit, Te Ture Whenua Māori reforms and most recently in the District Court.
Prior to joining the Ministry of Justice, Steve was a leader of IT Teams at the Ministry of Social Development and worked as an IT professional within the private sector before joining the public sector.
Contact - Steve.Gunson@justice.govt.nz
Claire Stirling-Hawkins | Pae Ārahi o Te Rāwhiti - Tairāwhiti (Gisborne), Tākitimu (Hastings) and Te Waipounamu (Christchurch)
Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, Ngāti Porou, Ngāi Tahu, Kāti Mamoe, Ngāti Kauwhata, Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga
Claire joined the Ministry of Justice in 2014 as a Collections Manager covering the Manawatu and Whanganui regions. Prior to joining the Ministry of Justice she held a number of leadership and management positions with Careers New Zealand, covering similar regions and including Taranaki. Claire joined the Māori Land Court in 2017 and brings extensive leadership knowledge and experience to her current position as Pae Ārahi o Te Rawhiti.
Based in Palmerston North, Claire holds a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Post-graduate diploma from Massey University in Palmerston North.
Contact - Claire.Stirling-Hawkins@justice.govt.nz
Born and bred in Whanganui, Don first began work with the Department of Māori Affairs in Whanganui in 1983, joining the Māori Land Court in 1990. He has held a range of positions across the court and brings extensive knowledge and experience to his current position Pae Ārahi o Te Raki and Registrar in Whangārei.
Contact - Don.Cameron@justice.govt.nz
Ngāi Tai ki Torere, Whakatōhea, Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāi Tūhoe
Graeme joined the Māori Land Court in 2005 as Regional Director in Rotorua. Before this he held a number of management positions with the Department of Corrections and Department of Justice. Graeme served with the New Zealand Army for over 20 years, until retiring in the rank of substantive Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment. Graeme was awarded a Queens Service Medal for public services in 2008.
Contact - Graeme.Vercoe@justice.govt.nz
Waikato Tainui, Ngati Maahanga
Riana joined the Ministry of Justice in 2015 holding a variety of positions across justice including collections, operational support, projects and the Office of the Chief Executive. During 2019-2021 Riana worked on the Whenua Māori Programme as the Implementation Manager working as a key conduit between the MLC leadership and the Whenua Māori programme.
Riana led a project stream of 15 staff including advisors, analysts and subject matter experts to ensure the deliverables of the programme were fit for purpose and would transition well into the Court. Riana joined the Māori Land Court in February 2021, as the Pae Ārahi (Manager Justice Services) of the newly formed Te Tiratū – MLC Performance Team.
Contact - Riana.Curtis@justice.govt.nz
Ngāti Kahu, Ngāpuhi, Ngāi Tūhoe
Judy joined the Ministry of Justice in 2000 starting at the Papakura District Court. She has spent most of her career in the South Auckland area, recently moving from the Manukau District Court to the Auckland Contact Centre, where she has held various leadership and project roles.
Judy then worked in Collections where she has gained extensive technical experience and a wide range of leadership skills that will compliment the work of Te Waharoa. Judy joined the Māori Land Court in April 2021, as the first Pae Ārahi in the newly established Te Waharoa Team.
Contact - Judy.Powell@justice.govt.nz
Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Rangiwewehi
Steve first began work in the Maori Affairs Department in July 1984 working Māori Trustee and then the Land Development division before becoming an Alienation Officer in 1989.
Steve has held multiple roles within the Court, including as a case manager, team leader, district manager, Principal Liaison Officer and Service Manager, before being appointed as the Chief Registrar of the Māori Land Court in February 2021.
With changes to the role of the Chief Registrar, Steve is now responsible for exercising statutory powers in accordance with the applicable Act, providing technical advice relating to Court processes and procedures and supporting the staff and managers of the Māori Land Court to enable them to deliver excellent customer service.
Contact - Steven.Dodd@justice.govt.nz
“Ko au te taupā kiihai puawai ōku moemoea”
Ko te tūranga o te Puna Hāpai kia hāpai te tāngata i Te Kooti Whenua Māori kia waipuketia tōna ake puna hei oranga mo te whānau i te whenua.
I ngā rā o mua, he mōkai tēnei mo taku iwi o Whanganui kei te reo irirangi, kei te manatū hauora, kei te puna matauranga, kei te Poari Matua o te Awa o Whanganui hoki.
Nō tērā tau tekau he kai mahi ahau i Te Kooti Whenua Māori o Aotea (Whanganui), ināianei ka noho au ki Te Paepae o Te Kooti.
“I am the only barrier to achieving my dreams”
The role of the Puna Hāpai is about realising the potential of all staff to deliver a Māori service that results in the wellbeing of families through whenua.
Over the years, Piri has worked in service of her people in Whanganui including Awa FM, Te Oranganui Iwi Health Authority, Te Puna Matauranga o Whanganui and the Whanganui River Māori Trust Board.
In the last 10 years, Piri has worked at the Māori Land Court in Whanganui and has recently been added to the MLC Leadership Team.
Contact - Pirihira.Cribb@justice.govt.nz
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