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Professor John Dawson

BA(Hons) LLD(Otago) LLM(Harv)



Tel +64 3 479 8909
Office 10th Floor – 10C11


I am involved in the teaching and supervision of students enrolled in our specialist post-graduate degree: the Masters of Bioethics and Health Law.

Research interests

Mental health law, law governing research, Te Tiriti o Waitangi / Treaty of Waitangi settlements, public law and socio-legal research.

The main focus of my research is the law governing involuntary psychiatric treatment and legal relations between mental health professionals and their clients. I study these matters in the law books and in fieldwork conducted within the mental health services. Often this involves collaboration with health professionals and social scientists.

I have also had a long involvement with law reform. In my secondary field of research, public law, my focus has been on relations between the NZ state and Māori, and on Treaty of Waitangi settlements.

My main research project currently is known as the Otago Community Treatment Order Study. This is a study of the use of involuntary outpatient psychiatric treatment. This has been funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand and the New Zealand Law Foundation.


I was educated in New Zealand and North America, at Otago and Harvard universities, and have taught as a visitor at McGill in Montreal and at the University of Toronto.