New Chief High Court Judge

Justice Susan Thomas has been appointed Chief High Court Judge.

She replaces Justice Geoffrey Venning who has resigned from the position.

Attorney-General David Parker paid tribute to Justice Venning, who he said had stewarded the High Court very capably over the last five years.

“On behalf of the Government, I thank him for his service to the judiciary and community as a Head of Bench.”

Justice Venning’s resignation will take effect on 31 May 2020. He will remain a Judge of the High Court based in Auckland.

Susan Thomas graduated with a BA and LLB (Hons) from Auckland University in 1982 and practised as a solicitor with the Auckland firm of Holmden Horrocks before relocating to London the following year.

She was admitted as a solicitor in England and Wales, and spent almost 10 years as an in‑house counsel and as a solicitor and partner in a legal firm in London.

On her return to New Zealand in 1995 Justice Thomas joined Minter Ellison Rudd Watts as a senior associate, and was admitted to the partnership the following year.

In 2005 she was appointed a District Court Judge. During her time as a District Court Judge she was involved in solution-focused judging and in 2012 started a Special Circumstances Court in Wellington to focus on the most challenged and marginalised offenders.

David Parker also announced the appointment of Auckland barrister and solicitor Dani Lee Gardiner as an Associate Judge of the High Court.

Since 2018 she has been General Counsel, heading Auckland Council’s in-house legal, risk and insurance department. She will sit in Auckland.