Leadership team

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

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


Don Cameron | Pae Ārahi o Te Raki - Te Taitokerau (Whangārei) and Waikato Maniapoto (Hamilton)

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 Pae Ārahi o Te Raki and Registrar in Whangārei.

Contact - Don.Cameron@justice.govt.nz


Graeme Vercoe QSM | Pae Ārahi o Te Rito - Waiariki (Rotorua) and Aotea (Whanganui)

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.

 Contact - Graeme.Vercoe@justice.govt.nz


Daniel Williams | Pae Ārahi o Te Tiratū

Dan joined the Māori Land Court in February 2022, as Pae Arahi o Te Tiratū.

A seasoned leader with a strong operational background in service delivery, Dan has led teams in both the Wellington and Hutt Valley District Courts, and acted in the Manager Justice Services role for Manawatu/Wairarapa and Northern Wellington.

Prior to joining the Ministry in 2015, Dan worked in the banking sector in Canada and the United Kingdom and held a number of other roles across a range of organisations in New Zealand and abroad.

Contact - Daniel.Williams@justice.govt.nz


Judy Powell | Pae Ārahi o Te Waharoa (Auckland)

 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


Steven Dodd | Kairēhita Matua - Chief Registrar of the Māori Land Court

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


Pirihira Cribb | Puna Hāpai

 “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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