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logo_nzlfMonday 25th – Wednesday 27th NOVEMBER 2013
University of Otago, Dunedin, Aotearoa/New Zealand

Theme: “People, Power and Place”

With the generous support of the New Zealand Law Foundation, this conference provides an opportunity to come together, share and be inspired about global, international comparative, national and local ideas of the role of law in configuring historical understandings of people, power and place. This will be an exciting and notable interdisciplinary conference for all persons interested in the connections between law and history. A must attend event in the special place of Dunedin – home to Aotearoa New Zealand's oldest university, the University of Otago, the stunning new Toitū Otago Settlers Museum, and the much loved Hocken Collections. The University of Otago Faculty of Law and Department of History & Art History look forward to hosting you in November 2013.

All welcome.

Keynote Speakers

We are excited and honoured to confirm our following keynote speakers:

  • Professor Lauren Benton, Affiliate Professor of Law, Professor of History and Dean of Graduate School of Arts and Science at New York University, United States of America, Modalities of British Protection in the Early Nineteenth Century World
  • The Hon Justice Stephen Kós, High Court, Wellington, The enduring constitutional significance of Fitzgerald v Muldoon [1976] 2 NZLR 615 (NZHC)
  • Chief Judge Wilson Isaac, Chief Judge of the Maori Land Court and Chairperson of the Waitangi Tribunal, Aotearoa New Zealand, Exploring the past, present and future of New Zealand's two unique legal institutions: the Maori Land Court and the Waitangi Tribunal
  • Professor Tony Ballantyne, Professor of History, Dean of the Department of History and Art History, and Director of the Research Centre for Colonial Cultures at the University of Otago, Aotearoa New Zealand, "Waste" and "Improvement": People, Power and Place in colonial Otago
  • Professor Jeremy Finn, Professor of Law at the University of Canterbury, Aotearoa New Zealand, Lawyers, 'place' and power
  • Dr Lisa Ford, Senior Lecturer, School of Humanities, University of New South Wales, Australia, Commissioning Global Order: Commissions of Enquiry and the Reconstitution of the British Empire, 1800-1840
  • Dr Mark Hickford, Legal Advisor, Prime Minister's Policy Advisory Group, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet; Crown Counsel at the Crown Law Office, An Empire of Variations: Problems of Settlement and the Property Rights of Indigenous Populations

American Society of Legal History Guest Panel

This year we are delighted to host a guest panel from the American Society of Legal History entitled "Power, Place and Presence in Anglo-American Legal Landscapes" consisting of:

  • Joshua C. Tate, Associate Professor of Law, Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law, Episcopal Power and Royal Jurisdiction in Angevin England
  • Craig Evan Klafter, Associate Professor of History and Associate Provost for International Programs, University of Northern Iowa, Location Isn't Always Everything: The Declining Rights of the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa
  • Christopher Tomlins (chair), Chancellor's Professor of Law, University of California, Irvine, Styron's Nat: Or, the Metaphysics of Presence

Panel Abstract

In the past fifty years, legal history has become the most heavily populated “theory and perspective” subject in the contemporary American law school. That growth has been accompanied, inevitably, by immense and increasing diversity. Legal history's traditional roots in English medieval and common law history have been supplemented by waves of interest in distinctively American subjects, and, somewhat more recently, by a proliferation of methodological, theoretical and interpretive perspectives. This panel will present three distinct but related examples of how legal history is currently being pursued in North America, each attentive to one or more aspects – power, place, and presence – of the Dunedin Conference theme. Joshua Tate will present a paper that speaks to the continuing vitality of medieval and early common law history in the American legal academy, and that simultaneously demonstrates how that tradition can illuminate endlessly interesting questions of power and jurisdiction. Through a case study exploration of American Indian law, Craig Evan Klafter will demonstrate how the expansion of American legal history has seen the field opened to subject areas more or less completely ignored half a century ago. Finally, Christopher Tomlins will offer a paper that reflects upon slave rebellion as a subject for legal history and upon the role of literary texts in furnishing interpretive perspective for historical inquiry.


Dunedin Supreme Court. Smith, Sydney Charles, 1888-1972 :Photographs of New Zealand. Ref: 1/2-047631-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand


See the programme (PDF, 237KB)

See the conference flyer (PDF, 168KB).

See the powerpoint slide (PPT, 261KB).

See the conference poster (PDF, 144KB).

See the conference abstracts (PDF, 487KB).

Conference Dinner & Keynote Speaker

We are delighted to confirm that the conference dinner will be held on Tuesday 26th November at Larnach Castle (New Zealand's only castle, built 1871).

The conference dinner fee includes return coach bus transport from the University of Otago to the Castle which is situated on the stunning Otago Peninsula, and a 3 course buffet meal.

Conference dinner fee is: NZ$100.00

There is an optional extra available: a 30 minute guided tour of the Castle. The additional cost for this is NZ$15.00.

You will be able to register for this conference dinner and guided tour when you register for the conference.

You are welcome to invite your partner to join us at the conference dinner. The same conference dinner costs apply to attendees' guests (NZ$100.00 for the conference dinner and $15.00 for the optional Castle tour). Please let our conference administrator know before 1st November if your partner wishes to join us for the dinner and for payment options.

Conference Dinner Keynote Speaker Professor Jeremy Finn (Faculty of Law, University of Canterbury) “Lawyers, 'place' and power”

Abstract: This paper looks at the early New Zealand legal profession and questions whether “place” – in the nineteenth century sense of a governmental position or appointment which carried with it a salary or fees - was a key component in the professional success of individual lawyers in the fledgling colony and, more broadly, whether the legal profession generally was reliant to a significant degree on the ability to draw on the public purse. The research on which it is based forms part of a larger project on early New Zealand lawyers, in which it has become evident that a significant number of the first cohort of lawyers held, at one time or another, some form of political, judicial or administrative office which brought the holders some significant income. The paper will sketch out that data, and then look to data from later years – particularly from the 1870s, where the record for both central and provincial government is both accessible and reasonably complete. The analysis will include both salaried positions and those, such as crown prosecutors or revising barristers, which depended on fees. It will further consider the extent of multiple office-holding, the stage in lawyers' careers where appointments were made and what matters may have influenced appointments. I will conclude by considering some of the implications of this analysis for our received views of the legal profession as operating largely independently of the state.


Please note that applications for the New Zealand Law Foundation and Kercher Scholarships closed on 31st August 2013 and have now been awarded. The New Zealand Law Foundation scholarships are supporting several New Zealand law students and graduates to attend this conference. The Bruce Kercher Scholarships are supporting five post-graduate students from Australia and New Zealand to attend this conference. The Bruce Kercher Scholarship was established by the ANZLHS in recognition of the substantial contribution to legal history and the society by its founding President, Emeritus Professor Bruce Kercher.

Further Information

Any other inquiries about the ANZLHS conference contact the conference convenor Associate Professor Jacinta Ruru:

Any inquiries about the Australian New Zealand Law and History Society (ANZLHS) including becoming a member, please consult the ANZLHS website for contact details.

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