Topic: New Year's Honours

Peter Williams QC recognised for services in law

By Te Kāea

Peter Williams QC has been appointed a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services in the law.

Williams was admitted to the bar in 1960 and is well known for campaigning hard for prisoner rights, advocating for decent conditions during incarceration, rehabilitation and addressing the causes of crime.

While he is recognised for many things he was an ever present figure and assisted Tūhoe and members of the community of Ruatoki in their fight for justice following the Opration 8 raids by armed SWOT Police in the small valley in 2007.

Peter Williams QC, described the raids as “an example of institutional racism and total police arrogance,” he also said “police would never take the same action against a Pakeha township because they would be nervous of the backlash."

In 2007, less than three weeks after the raids Peter Williams QC travelled to Ruatoki with a team to check on possible civil rights breaches during the raids. It was reported he wanted to offer people in the area the chance to challenge police over their actions.

He has been openly critical of police actions in this situation and has always called for compensation in one way or another from Police to those who were heavily affected by the raids however were never charged or bought before the courts.

Mr Williams has undertaken some of the most significant trials in New Zealand’s history, which also included representing figures such as Zion King, Arthur Allen Thomas, Terry ‘Mr Asia’ Clark, and the Bassett Road machine gun murderers.