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Former Samoa AG Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff Appointed as New Zealand's First National Public Defender

Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff, the former Attorney-General of Samoa, has started his tenure as New Zealand's inaugural National Public Defender.

Lemalu has been appointed as a key figure in the executive team of the Public Defence Service. In his new capacity, he supervises approximately 160 legal professionals across ten regional offices, which include Christchurch, Wellington, Hawkes Bay, Tauranga, Hamilton, and Auckland.

Lemalu is responsible for representing individuals who face criminal charges and providing them with crucial legal advice. He expressed his enthusiasm for leading a talented and dedicated team of attorneys and support staff, emphasising the importance of contributing to such a vital sector of the justice system. In an announcement from the Public Defence Service, Lemalu said, "It's an honour to lead this exceptional team of attorneys and staff as we fulfil our critical role within the justice sector."

Lemalu's journey to his current prestigious role included serving as the public defender for Waitakere starting in February 2021, after concluding his tenure in Samoa. He began his legal career in New Zealand at Meredith Connell in 2005, later transitioning to public defense in 2009. He then served as Samoa's Attorney-General for four years, starting in 2016.

Lemalu started his new role earlier this week, which marks a significant milestone in New Zealand's legal landscape.


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