Chris was born in 1956 and grew up in Wellington. After college, he attended Victoria University, Wellington, graduating with a BA in Latin and French and a Masters Degree in Law. Chris has practised law in Wellington for over 25 years, first in a firm called Brandons where he was a partner for a number of years then, from 1990 – 2002, as a partner at Bell Gully in Wellington. In 2003 Chris became a barrister sole.
Over the years, Chris has represented clients in all of New Zealand’s Courts and Tribunals, including nine appearances in the Privy Council. He is currently a member of the Rules Committee of the High Court which regulates court procedures in New Zealand. For many years he maintained his links to academic life through part-time teaching at Victoria University’s Law Faculty.
Chris served on Creative New Zealand’s Board for six years and Chaired the Arts Board from 1998 – 2001. He was also Trustee of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra Foundation and is well known for his sponsorship of the arts.
Chris entered Parliament in 2005 and at various stages of his career he has been a Branch, Electorate and Regional Chair of the National Party. He continues to sit on the Rules Committee of the National Party and as the Chairman of the Policy Consultation Committee.
Chris was appointed Attorney-General, Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage following the 2008 election. He was reappointed to these positions in 2011 and was also made Associate Minister of Maori Affairs.
After the 2014 election, Chris was reappointed Attorney-General, Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and Associate Minister of Maori Development he was also made the Minister in Charge of the NZ Security Intelligence Service and Minister Responsible for the GCSB.