Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to the judiciary.

A former High Court judge has been awarded a top honour upon her retirement.

Justice Judith Potter is today made a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the judiciary.

Dame Judith presided over several high-profile cases in 15 years at the High Court, including the manslaughter of aspiring Maori leader Hawea Vercoe and the murder of Dunedin woman Sophie Elliot.

This year, she also ruled police seizures of Kim Dotcom's property illegal and awarded the internet tycoon monthly living expenses.


Dame Judith was the first woman president of the New Zealand Law Society, and was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1994 for her services to the legal profession.

She was a director of the Electricity Corporation from 1994 until her judicial appointment in 1997. She was also a director of the New Zealand Guardian Trust Company and is a fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Directors.

From 1995 to 1997 she was the chairwoman of the Broadcasting Standards Authority, and a member of the Securities Commission from 1988 to 1997.

Dame Judith chaired a review of liquor advertising and worked on a review of equal opportunities in work.

Following her retirement as a judge of the NZ High Court, she was appointed to positions in the Cook Islands and Pitcairn.