Hannah Cuthill Barrister

Contact Hannah


+64 27 205 8988




Level 1, 240 Victoria Street
Hamilton 3204

Hannah Cuthill


Areas of practice: Criminal defence; family

Hannah has over a decade of experience representing criminal and family clients in all court levels.  She has appeared in a wide range of matters including jury and judge-alone trials, appeals, bail hearings, mediations and settlement conferences, media and suppression applications and Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act matters. She has appeared as counsel to assist in both the District Court and High Court, and has lead witness evidence during a Royal Commission Abuse in Care hearing.

Hannah has approval from the Law Society to accept direct instructions from clients, without an instructing solicitor, on criminal and family matters.  Hannah also accepts legal aid retainers and is passionate about equal access to justice and addressing inequities in legal representation.  While Hannah enjoys the complexity of appellate work and jury trials, no case is too small or insignificant.  Hannah appreciates her clients often come to her in periods of high stress or uncertainty, and they deserve to have their mana preserved and all care and attention given.  Hannah identifies as a lawyer who works very much at the “coal face” of the justice system.

She is well versed in representing vulnerable clients and handling sensitive subject matter, including assisting survivors of state abuse and their families, representing children and young people in the family court and dealing with high conflict cases.

Hannah lives on a lifestyle block in rural Waikato with her young family, and her practice is based in Hamilton.  She has practiced in Invercargill and in Nelson, and prior to her admission to the bar was a policy analyst at the former Ministry of Economic Development.

Hannah is Pākehā and has a keen interest in expanding her knowledge of tikanga and her use of te reo Māori.

Qualifications and appointments

BA (Hons, 1st) (English), University of Otago, 2006
LLB, University of Otago, 2007
Associate Diploma Speech and Drama, Trinity College London, 2001
PG Cert Public Policy – Victoria University of Wellington, 2010
Admitted as Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand, 2010
Appointed to Lawyer for Child Panel, 2018
Appointed to Legal Assistance Panel, Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care, 2020

Awards and memberships

Gilray Memorial Prize (first in 100 level English) 2002
Top female graduate English Honours programme 2006
Runner up, Chen Palmer and Partners Bill of Rights Moot Competition 2004
Semi Finalist, Australasian Red Cross International Humanitarian Law Moot 2005
Member, Family Law Section, New Zealand Law Society
Member, New Zealand Bar Association | Ngā Ahorangi Motuhake o te Ture
Legal aid approvals – Criminal PAL 2, Duty Lawyer, Parole, Police Detention Legal Advice, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, Family lead provider, Family Legal Advice Service

D v Chief Executive of Oranga Tamariki & Anor [2023] NZHC 2366 – Appeared as counsel to assist the court on an appeal under the Care of Children Act.

Rowe v R [2018] NZSC 55 (junior counsel for the appellant); Rowe v R [2017] NZCA 316 (lead oral submissions) – successful appeal against conviction under s126 Crimes Act 1961 – doing an indecent act with intent to insult.  The appellant had been using a zoom lens to take candid photographs of teen and pre-teen girls wearing bikinis in public on Kaiteriteri Beach.

D (CA342/2018) v R [2018] NZCA 520 (sole counsel) – subject to permanent name suppression orders.  Health professional charged with indecent assault of 2 female patients.  Crown proposed to lead evidence from several other women as propensity evidence.  On appeal one of the witnesses’ evidence was ruled inadmissible.

Pearson v New Zealand Police [2017] NZHC 666 (sole counsel) – successful appeal against sentence – Psychoactive Substances Act.

Boulton v New Zealand Police [2016] NZHC 1474 (sole counsel) – successful appeal against conviction – Police investigating theft of plants located them next door on the appellant’s property.  She was charged with Receiving. Considering application of doctrine of recent possession.  A retrial was directed.

Strangman v New Zealand Police [2014] NZHC 526 (sole counsel) – appeal against conviction on a charge of dangerous driving – inadmissibility of roadside statements, when police are required to administer cautions when speaking to drivers

District Court Jury trial examples

  • Burglary, driving whilst disqualified (third and subsequent), receiving (sole counsel) – Hannah successfully applied for severance and one charge was dismissed at pre-trial due to insufficiency of evidence.
  • Arson and insurance fraud (junior counsel) – Accused charged with deliberately setting fire to his food truck and making a subsequent insurance claim. Nine-day trial requiring Hungarian translation. Expert evidence lead by both the Crown and defence.
  • Family violence (junior counsel) – accused charged with a number of breaches of protection orders and assaults against his wife and young son over a period of a year.
  • Injuring with intent to cause grievous bodily harm (junior counsel) – attack with a samurai sword, with multiple witnesses. Hannah conducted defence opening and cross examined several witnesses including a child witness.
  • Assault with intent to injure (junior counsel) – two co-accused charged with a co-ordinated attack on a homeless man using rocks found at the scene. Hannah cross examined several witnesses.

Recent judge alone trials (sole counsel)

  • Driving with Excess Breath Alcohol – charge withdrawn at trial callover following discussions with prosecutions (2022)
  • Possession Objectionable Publications – challenged search warrant evidence under the Films, Videos and Publications Classifications Act (August 2023)
  • Violence – successfully argued self defence to charges arising from a group assault (August 2023)
  • Family violence – successfully argued self defence to a breach of protection order, and successfully defended assault with intent to injure.  Strangulation charge withdrawn by prosecutions following pre-trial discussions (October 2023)
  • Family Violence – defendant originally charged with strangulation of his daughter but charge amended to one of Crimes Act common assault on day of trial (June 2020).
  • Breach protection order – involving abusive comments posted on the defendant’s facebook stories. Hannah was appointed amicus curae (August 2020).
  • Family violence – husband charged with hitting wife, with young son as witness. Hannah successfully applied to dismiss the charge after cross examining the complainant.  Tongan translator was used (September 2020).
  • Assault – Police offered no evidence on the day of trial (September 2020).
  • Assault – successfully argued self-defence after two men chased the defendant for a short distance (January 2021).

 Examples of other criminal work

  • Successfully challenging Crown application for a further 10 year period on an Extended Supervision Order, engaging experts to assist with negotiating less restrictive conditions.
  • Driver disqualification matters – recent successful applications include:
    • Substitution of mandatory disqualification period with community-based sentence due to defendant needing to drive for work (April 2021).
    • 80 hours of community work imposed, instead of mandatory minimum 6 month disqualification, after applicant caught driving while suspended during lockdown. Court agreed disqualification would have a negative impact on the applicant’s ability to find work and to support his pregnant partner and their unborn child (August 2020).
    • No disqualification imposed where applicant had driven while suspended in order to deliver medication to a friend during lockdown. Applicant was a solo mother with young children and disqualification would be particularly difficult (June 2020).
  • Discharge without conviction applications – recent successful applications include:
    • a young man charged with Male Assaults Female while intoxicated, where the conviction would cause difficulties for overseas work opportunities. Applicant works in civil construction (October 2020).
    • Bar manager charged with assaulting a male friend of his ex-partner in the context of a difficult separation. Conviction would be relevant for renewal of his manager’s licence (July 2020).
    • Young adult charged with careless driving causing injury, where conviction would restrict career opportunities and travel (July 2023).

 Examples of recent family court hearings and conferences

  • Represented grandparent caregivers with whom Oranga Tamariki have placed children following uplift from biological parents, including short cause hearings on access arrangements and settlement conferences (2020 – 2021).
  • Represented children and young people in parenting order proceedings following their father being charged with sexual offending against two of the children (November 2020).
  • Represented child where psychologist reported there was a resist/refuse dynamic caused by parental alienation.  Following evidence from psychologist at short cause hearing assisted in reaching a structured contact plan, for the child’s contact with alienated parent supported through family therapy (2021).
  • Represented mother of baby in protection order and parenting applications at defended long cause hearing (November 2020).
  • Represented child in submissions only hearing and settlement conference to consider her ability to travel to Europe to see wider family, in the context of Covid-19 concerns in that particular country (November 2020).
  • Represented children in several families on different occasions, considering parameters of a parent’s contact given alcohol abuse or drug abuse issues, including cross examination at short cause hearings (2020 – 2023).
  • Represented child in parenting proceedings where there have been past allegations of sexual abuse by older sibling (2021).
  • Successfully defended mother in contempt of court proceedings in the Family Court (2022).
  • Successfully applied for mother to relocate from New Zealand to Australia with the child, due to father’s psychological violence against the mother (2022).
  • Represented the pito / biological mother in a whangai arrangement that dissolved when the whangai parents separated, and one sought to relocate with the child, resolved successfully at judicial settlement conference with assistance from a cultural report writer (2023).
  • Represented a child who was the victim of a significant assault by one of his parents, in proceedings concerning his care arrangements (2023).

Examples of cases reported in the media