Leadership team

Our Leadership Team are the District Managers 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:


Renee Smith, Director Waitangi Tribunal/ Māori Land Court

Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungungu

Renee has been with the Ministry of Justice since 2010 and held several positions across the organisation including within the Office of Treaty Settlements, Justice Sector Strategy, Commissioning & Service Improvement. She is part of the Courts & Tribunals Leadership team within the Operations and Service Delivery Group. She has previously worked at the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority and the American Embassy.

Her career started at THS & Associates Ltd, a Hamilton-based consulting firm providing strategic and business advice to iwi, Māori, public and private sector clients throughout New Zealand.


Don Cameron | Manager Justice Services and Registrar, Māori Land Court, Taitokerau District (Whangārei)

Don Cameron, District Manager and Registrar, Māori Land Court,

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 as the Manager Justice Services, Whangārei and Auckland and Registrar in Whangārei.


Graeme Vercoe QSM | Manager, Justice Services and Registrar, Māori Land Court, Waikato-Maniapoto District (Hamilton), Waiariki District (Rotorua) and Tairāwhiti District (Gisborne)

Ngāi Tai ki Torere, Whakatōhea, Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāi Tūhoe

Graeme Vercoe QSM, District Manager and Registrar, Māori Land Court

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 and is the current Registrar of the Māori Land Court for the Waikato-Maniapoto, Waiariki and Tairāwhiti Districts.


Claire Stirling-Hawkins | Manager Justice Services and Registrar, Māori Land Court, Aotea District (Whanganui), Takitimu District (Hastings) and Te Waipounamu District (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 the Manager Justice Services and Registrar of the Māori Land Court for the Aotea, Tākitimu and Te Waipounamu districts.

Based in Palmerston North, Claire holds a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Post-graduate diploma from Massey University in Palmerston North.


Taiawhio Raihania Waititi | Chief Registrar, Māori Land Court | Te Kairēhita Matua o Te Kooti Whenua Māori

Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, Ngāti Porou, Ngāi Tāmanuhiri, Ngāti Awa, Te Whakatōhea, Ngāi Te Rangi

Taiawhio originally joined the Māori Land Court in 2004 as a Team Member, Operations in the Waiariki registry office in Rotorua. During this time, he worked in various special project teams focused on complex title improvement applications. Following his time in the Court, Taiawhio took up a role as Lecturer at Te Whare Wānanga ō Awanuiārangi in Whakatāne, working in the Computer and Information Science department under the late Professor Mark Laws. During this time, he also took up a part-time role at Te Puni Kōkiri (the Ministry for Māori Development) as a Māori Governance contractor, eventually taking up a full time role as a Kaiwhakarite, based out of the Te Moana ā Toi office in Whakatāne, primarily servicing the Te Whānau A Apanui rohe, and supporting initiaitves in the Ōpōtiki and Whakatāne regions.

Returning to the Māori Land Court in 2009, Taiawhio took up a role as a Business Advisor to the National Operations Manager (and Chief Registrar), moving onto a Senior Business Advisor role to the Director (and Chief Registrar) of the Māori Land Court, then to a Senior Advisor role within main Justice, working in Operations Support as part of the Courts and Tribunals Regional Service Delivery team, before taking up his current role as Chief Registrar in May 2019.

Based in Wellington, Taiawhio holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science, a Post-Graduate Diploma in Information Science and a Masters of Indigenous Studies all from the University of Otago in Dunedin.

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