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Monday 19 December 2022 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Court, National


Justice Keane appointed Cook Islands’ new Chief Justice
Cook Islands High Court. Photo: Sian Solomon/21110511

Ministry of Justice has appointed a new head of Cook Islands judiciary to replace the retiring Chief Justice Sir Hugh Williams KNZM, KC.

Justice Patrick Keane CNZM has been appointed the new Chief Justice of the country.

In a statement Ministry of Justice said at the time of Justice Keane’s appointment to the High Court of the Cook Islands in 2016, he was one of New Zealand’s longest serving Judges, having originally been appointed as a District Court Judge and then as a High Court Judge in 2003. 

Since his appointment to the Cook Islands’ High Court Justice Keane has played a major role in the work of the High Court, especially during the pandemic and overseeing the Te Mato Vai litigation, the statement said.

He has also sat on many occasions in the criminal and civil divisional courts of the New Zealand Court of Appeal.

The ministry also announced the appointments of Sir Terence Arnold KNZM, KC to the Cook Islands Court of Appeal, and Justice Christopher (“Kit”) Toogood KC as a Judge of the High Court.

All three appointments are for three years, the maximum term permissible under the Constitution.

The retiring Chief Justice Williams stated: “These appointments and promotions continue the tradition of the Cook Islands’ judiciary being of the highest calibre and unimpeachable integrity.”

Ministry of Justice Secretary Tamatoa Jonassen agreed with the retiring Chief Justice’s sentiments.

“As a country with a small population, we are incredibly lucky to have such a highly qualified and legally astute judiciary. Although we welcome the new appointments in the Judiciary, we will miss the exceptional leadership and expertise of retiring Chief Justice the Honourable Sir Hugh Williams.”

Justice Arnold replaces Justice Sir David Williams KNZM KC who retired in August 2022 after more than 20 years’ service to the Cook Islands’ judiciary as a High Court Judge, 2000-2005, Chief Justice 2005-2010 and a Court of Appeal Judge from 2010, including being president.

After practising as a partner in a Wellington law firm, Justice Arnold went to the independent bar in 1994 and was appointed as King’s Counsel in 1997 and New Zealand Solicitor-General in 2000.

He was appointed direct to the New Zealand Court of Appeal in 2006 and to the Supreme Court of New Zealand between 2013 – 2017. He was knighted in 2016.

Justice Toogood practiced as a partner in a Wellington law firm until he joined the independent bar in 1990 and was appointed King’s Counsel in 1999 and a Judge of the New Zealand High Court between 2011 - 2022, an appointment in which he also sat frequently in divisional Courts of Appeal 

Since his retirement from the New Zealand High Court he continues practising as a mediator and arbitrator.

During his time in practice Justice Toogood acted in major Cook Islands’ litigation and continues to maintain his interest in the Cook Islands, the statement said.