Rt Hon Dame Sian Elias | Towards Justice
Chief Justice Rt Hon Dame Sian Elias
The Right Honourable Dame Elias was the 12th Chief Justice of New Zealand and the first woman to be appointed to that office. She graduated from Auckland University with an LLB Honours Degree in 1970 and was admitted to the New Zealand Bar the same year. She studied at Stanford University, from which she graduated in 1972 with a Master’s Degree in Law. Following her return to New Zealand, Dame Sian worked first as a solicitor and then as a barrister in Auckland. In 1984-1989 she was a member of the Law Commission working particularly on the reform of company law.
In 1988, Dame Sian was appointed a Queen’s Counsel. She appeared in a number of significant cases, including cases concerning the Treaty of Waitangi. She was awarded a Commemorative Medal in 1990 in recognition of services to the legal profession.
In 1995, Dame Sian was appointed Judge of the High Court in Auckland. On 17 May 1999, she was appointed Chief Justice of New Zealand and was made a Dame Grand Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit. The Chief Justice was appointed a Privy Councillor in 1999 and first sat on the Privy Council in 2001.
When in 2003 the Supreme Court Act established a final Court of Appeal in New Zealand, the Chief Justice became the head of the new Supreme Court, which began sitting in July 2004.
Watch her Lecture on YouTube below:
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Sir John Graham
Since 2008, the annual Sir John Graham has provided a unique opportunity to hear leading experts contribute to public debate in New Zealand. To see previous lectures in the series, click here.
Sir John Graham was an exemplary New Zealander who throughout his life displayed the consistency of character and care for others we hope for in the best of our leaders. Along with his well-known leadership roles as Captain of the All Blacks, Headmaster of Auckland Grammar, and Chancellor of the University of Auckland, Sir John inspired and led many organisations, including Maxim Institute.
Appropriately, he was recognised with a CBE in 1994 for his services to education and the community, and was further honoured when he was knighted in 2011. As a Founding Trustee of Maxim, Sir John Graham’s deep love for New Zealand, his passion for education, and concern for those on the margins of life remain at the heart of our work, and we are honoured to be able to hold this annual lecture in his name.