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Indigenising the New Zealand law degree

Professor Ruru korowai image

Inspiring National Indigenous Legal Education for Aotearoa New Zealand’s Bachelor of Laws Degree is the first report from a nationwide collaboration research project with Māori legal academics from the six University law schools.

In this paper we have collated our knowledge of a sample of written sources of Māori law and prefaced our review with a researched discussion of why we are calling for Aotearoa New Zealand law students to be trained to practise in a bijural, bicultural and bilingual legal system.

There is increasing demand from the judiciary for advice on Māori law, especially since the Supreme Court accepted in 2012 that “Māori custom according to tikanga is therefore part of the values of the New Zealand common law” (Takamore v Clarke).[]:1: Other parts of the legal profession are recognising this need. Significant professional training is being done, for example, to upskill the judiciary on Māori law including time spent on marae. Law firms are engaging in Māori law professional development for their legal staff on Māori law understandings beyond treaty settlement and land law issues due to the needs of their clients.

We can ensure all Aotearoa New Zealand law graduates are well prepared for these new expectations in society and within the practice of law.

Report download

Inspiring National Indigenous Legal Education for Aotearoa New Zealand’s Bachelor of Laws Degree (PDF)

Phase 2 of the project

Phase 2 involves a 13 month wide consultation with Māori, law schools, academics, tauira and the legal profession on how this shift might be done, including the challenges and the opportunities of such a change to legal education. This consultation will be completed by the end of 2021.

Research team

Jacinta Ruru

(Raukawa, Ngāti Ranginui)

Professor of Law at the University of Otago, Co-Director of Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga New Zealand’s Centre of Māori Research Excellence, fellow of the Royal Society Te Apārangi, and recipient of the New Zealand’s Prime Minister’s Supreme Award for Excellence in Tertiary Teaching.

Metiria Turei

(Ngāti Kahungunu and Ati Hau nui a Pāpārangi)

Research Fellow at the University of Otago in the Faculty of Law.

Carwyn Jones

(Ngāti Kahungunu and Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki)

Senior Lecturer at Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington and an Associate Investigator with Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga.

Khylee Quince

(Te Roroa / Ngāpuhi and Ngāti Porou)

Associate Professor and Associate Head of School and Director of Māori and Pacific Advancement at AUT School of Law, Co-Director of AUT’s Centre for Indigenous Rights and Law and a Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga Principal Investigator.

Rebekah Bright

(Rongowhakaata, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Heretaunga)

Research Counsel, Te Kooti Whenua Māori.


Michael and Suzanne Borrin Foundation, $90,280 over 2019 and 2020.