University of Waikato award for Māori Land Court judge


Māori Land Court Judge and Deputy Chair of the Waitangi Tribunal, Stephanie Milroy, will be presented with a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Waikato this month. 


Stephanie-Milroy-webJudge Milroy received a Master of Laws from Waikato University in 1997.

Academic whānau

From a young age, Judge Milroy was instilled with the importance of education by her parents - her father is respected Tūhoe academic and former University of Waikato professor of Māori Dr Te Wharehuia Milroy. 

After finishing secondary education at Kelston Girls’ High School in West Auckland, Judge Milroy started tertiary study at the University of Auckland in the Faculty of Law. After graduating with a Bachelor of Laws she began her legal career at leading Hamilton law firm Harkness Henry. 

Return to study

After a successful legal career as an associate partner at Harkness Henry, and later a senior investigating solicitor in Hamilton’s Commercial Affairs Department, Judge Milroy joined the University of Waikato’s newly-established Faculty of Law (now Te Piringa – Faculty of Law) as a lecturer.

At a time when very little was being written about Māori legal issues, by Māori legal academics, Judge Milroy completed her masters study at Waikato while continuing to teach in the faculty of Law. 

As a legal practitioner and academic, Judge Milroy has published and presented widely on Māori legal issues and has a particular interest in legal education and access to justice for Māori. 

Appointment to the Bench

Stephanie Milroy was appointed as a Judge to the Māori Land Court Bench in 2002. 

On her appointment, the late Honourable Parekura Horomia said he was confident Judge Milroy would bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Bench, and that she had the skill, ability and courage to carry out the work while preserving the integrity of the court in today’s environment.

Waitangi Tribunal

In 2010 Judge Milroy was appointed Deputy Chair of the Waitangi Tribunal.

Since her appointment she has presided over the Tauranga Moana and Te Wānanga o Aotearoa inquiries, and is currently the presiding officer for the Mangatu crown forest remedies hearings.

“As a presiding officer in the Waitangi Tribunal I have the most interesting job I could imagine, with the opportunity to sit on a panel with some of the most eminent people in our society and discuss with them issues that have a real impact on our country.”

Distinguished Alumni Award

The University of Waikato’s Distinguished Alumni Awards for 2013 will be presented on September 20 at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts. The two other recipients are Distinguished Professor of Mathematics Marston Conder and Singaporean design agency-owner Edmund Wee.  All three recipients will be presented with a limited edition cast-glass figure created exclusively for the award.

University of Waikato Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Crawford says Judge Milroy’s contribution to the Māori legal environment in New Zealand reflects her unwavering commitment to legal access and justice for Māori.

“I am surprised and delighted to be chosen as a Distinguished Alumna,” Judge Milroy says. “It’s an honour I never expected to receive.  Without the opportunities and support of the Faculty of Law and the University, I wouldn’t have been able to follow the course of education, research and academic adventure that has led to my present position.”

Three Distinguished Alumni Awards are presented every year. The awards celebrate and honour Waikato alumni who have made outstanding contributions in their careers and communities, taking into account excellence in the professional, cultural, creative and voluntary sectors.