On this page:
- Is it time to raise the youth justice age?
- Staff Excellence Award for Dr Carwyn Jones
- New book asks New Zealanders how much power the government should have
- Victoria offers unique international trade degree
- Law alumna appointed Judge of the High Court
- Former Prime Minister calls for new constitution
- Principal Youth Court Judge Victoria Law alumnus
- Law alumni win Fulbright NZ awards
- Masters scholarships open for Law of Privacy
- Moment of chance proves life-changing for indigenous scholar
- Private Law prize honours top New Zealand judge
- Queen’s Birthday Honours for Law alumni
- Professor of Law appointed Queen’s Counsel
- Should medically assisted dying be allowed in New Zealand?
- Law graduate awarded prestigious Medal for Academic Excellence
- Alumna Sarah Grimmer appointed Secretary General in Hong Kong
- Students keen to take climate change action after training in the Philippines
- Timely research on international law for climate change relocation
- Student editor feels privileged to contribute to Māori law discussions
- Prize to remember Fran Wright launched
- Media intrusions into privacy examined in new book
- Victoria alumnus nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
- Expert panel to discuss next steps on TPPA
- Celebrating Law Faculty’s New Year Honours
- The TPPA and the Treaty
- Public lecture – considering indigenous laws
26 September 2016
Faculty of Law Senior Lecturer Dr Nessa Lynch spoke to TV3’s The Nation about why we need to raise the youth court age. Dr Lynch says 17 year olds have better outcomes from Youth Court, because there’s more focus on addressing the causes of offending.
See the full interview at http://bit.ly/2didUxo
20 September 2016
Faculty of Law Senior Lecturer Dr Carwyn Jones was among eight outstanding researchers and teachers from Victoria recently recognised with Staff Excellence Awards.
The awards, which were hosted by Tertiary Education Minister Hon. Steven Joyce and presented by Victoria alumnus and MP Chris Bishop, were a chance to recognise Victoria staff who have undertaken excellent research, teaching and public engagement in the service of our communities.
Dr Jones received one of the inaugural Engagement Excellence Awards for demonstrating how academic thought can inform and stimulate public debate.
Dr Jones’ research and engagement focuses on Māori and indigenous peoples’ legal issues, with a particular emphasis on public discussion of the Treaty of Waitangi and indigenous peoples’ rights. Highly active in public spheres, publishing opinion pieces and frequently featuring on radio and television, since 2009 Dr Jones has maintained a blog that focuses on indigenous issues. He also co-edits the Māori Law Review and contributes to student community engagement through his role as a faculty adviser to the Wellington Community Justice Project—a student-led organisation that aims to improve community access to legal services.
Dr Jones’s engagement is also international. He was selected as one of three Māori delegates to be part of the 2014 Pacific Indigenous Peoples Caucus to attend the United Nations World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in New York. He is frequently called upon by his hāpu and iwi to act for them in a representative capacity. Notably, in 2013, he was selected to be a member of the negotiating team for Te Tira Whakaemi o te Wairoa, the body mandated to negotiate historical Treaty claims of the greater Wairoa district.
The other recipients of Victoria Staff Excellence Awards were:
Research Excellence Awards
- Professor Mengjie Zhang, Associate Dean at the School of Engineering and Computer Science in the Faculty of Engineering
- Dr Joseph Bulbulia, Associate Professor at the School of Art History, Classics and Religious Studies in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
- Dr Nick Golledge, Senior Research Fellow at the Antarctic Research Centre in the Faculty of Science
Teaching Excellence Awards
- Dr Deirdre Brown, Senior Lecturer at the School of Psychology in the Faculty of Science
- Dr Matthias Lein, Senior Lecturer at the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences in the Faculty of Science
- Dr Diane Ormsby, Lecturer at the School of Biological Sciences in the Faculty of Science
Engagement Excellence Award
- Professor Rawinia Higgins, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Māori)
19 September 2016
The authors of a new book are seeking New Zealanders’ views about whether this country should have a written constitution and, if so, what should be in it.
Former Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC and constitutional expert Dr Andrew Butler have been working on a proposed new constitution and their book, A Constitution for Aotearoa New Zealand, will be launched at Parliament on Wednesday 21 September.
The book, published by Victoria University Press, seeks public comment about issues such as whether New Zealand should replace the monarchy with a New Zealander as Head of State, whether the Bill of Rights or the Treaty of Waitangi should be included in a written constitution, and what limits there should be on government powers, among other topics.
Dr Butler says the pair wants to start a nationwide conversation about what sort of nation New Zealand should be and how New Zealanders want their government to work.
“We are asking all New Zealanders, from young to old, in towns and cities across the country to think about these issues, because they make a real difference to how our society works,” says Dr Butler.
Sir Geoffrey says it is time New Zealand’s Constitution was modernised so it is more easily accessible, as it is currently located in many different laws and is hard to understand.
“We are proposing a new codified constitution that will bring the rules under which the country is governed into a single document. The law needs to be brought into step with modern New Zealand,” says Sir Geoffrey.
The proposed Constitution preserves the core branches of government and affirms the central importance of free, fair and democratic elections. It guarantees fundamental civil and political rights long recognised in our constitutional tradition.
It also proposes overhauling some aspects of the system the authors believe need changing. For example, the book proposes the creation of a new Head of State, elected in a free vote of the House of Representatives, with duties similar to those of the current Governor-General, and replacing the concept of “the Crown” with the legal establishment of the State.
“We already live in a disguised republic,” says Dr Butler. “We propose replacing the British monarchy with a domestic Head of State, while emphatically stating New Zealanders’ desire to remain within the Commonwealth.”
Under the proposed constitution, Parliament would have a fixed four-year term. The functions of the House of Representatives are set out, along with a new, politically neutral method for electing the Speaker.
Parliament’s law-making powers are set out and the powers of the Government are defined. The constitutional jurisdiction of the courts is also set out and a new Judicial Appointments Commission is provided to bolster the independence of the Judiciary.
To promote transparency, the availability of official information is constitutionally enhanced and the principles governing the public service and local government are set down. The authors also propose protecting human rights by including the Bill of Rights in the Constitution, as well as the Treaty of Waitangi.
Members of the public are invited to give their views to the authors through www.constitutionaotearoa.org.nz. All comments will be considered before the proposals are finalised at the end of 2017.
“Public participation is important,” says Sir Geoffrey. “A Constitution is for the people and the people should have a say about what they want to see protected in the law.”
18 August 2016
In a trans-Tasman first, a new international trade degree, launching at Victoria University of Wellington in 2017, will encourage students to work beyond traditional academic divides and succeed in the global economy.
The Master of International Trade, open to domestic and international students, offers a unique opportunity to understand international trade law, economics, and political economy, as well as a variety of cultural and critical perspectives impacting trade.
The degree will span four different faculties and schools—Law, Science, Humanities and Social Sciences, and Victoria Business School—giving students a unique perspective on international trade.
“New Zealand has a global reputation as a successful trading nation and is a respected player in international trade negotiations,” Vice-Provost (Research) Professor Kate McGrath says.
“Victoria is already highly regarded for study related to international trade. We are delighted to be taking our offering to the next level, with a degree programme that will be attractive to a range of students who will make their career contributing to the global economy through trade,” Professor McGrath says.
Faculty of Law Professor Susy Frankel says trade concerns are at the centre of many policies, including those relating to primary industries, developing innovation, attracting inward investment, encouraging outward investment, as well as biosecurity, environmental and labour conditions and industry productivity. “The Master of International Trade offers the opportunity to study these aspects of international trade through the lenses of different disciplines.
“This is the only international trade degree in New Zealand and Australia that will include expertise from four different parts of the university, giving students an understanding of the competing interests in the trade sphere and the diversity of views and perspectives about those interests,” Professor Frankel says.
Professor John Overton, from the School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences, says being able to communicate and negotiate across disciplines is an important skill in the 21st century and reflects the nature and challenges of international trade.
Students in one discipline will benefit from study of related areas that have trade impacts, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean Professor Jennifer Windsor says. “For example, international relations students should understand the legal rules of international trade law, and law students will benefit from understanding the policy and political economy context of international legal agreements and institutions.”
The core courses in the degree–which can be completed in a year–will cover:
- Multidisciplinary Approaches to International Trade
- International Trade Law
- Economics of International Trade
- International Political Economy.
“Discussing Māori involvement in international trade will be an important part of this degree,” says Dr Maria Bargh, the Head of Te Kawa a Māui–School of Māori Studies. “The programme will include content from Māori perspectives, both historical and contemporary, as well as the impacts on Māori and the country’s natural resources of the New Zealand Government entering international trade agreements.”
Enrolment for the new degree will open on 1 October 2016, and full course details, including fees, will be available then on the university’s website.
11 August 2016
Auckland lawyer and Victoria University of Wellington Law alumna Sally Fitzgerald has been appointed a Judge of the High Court. She will sit in Auckland. Justice Fitzgerald graduated with an LLB from Victoria in 1992.
You can read Attorney General Christopher Finlayson’s announcement here.
10 August 2016
Former Prime Minister and Victoria University of Wellington Distinguished Fellow Sir Geoffrey Palmer is calling for a modern written constitution in New Zealand to boost public confidence in government.
Sir Geoffrey and constitutional expert Dr Andrew Butler have been working on a proposed new constitution and will soon publish a book, A Constitution for Aotearoa New Zealand, setting out their ideas and seeking public comment on them.
New Zealand’s Constitution should be modernised to make it more easily accessible, says Sir Geoffrey.
“We aim to provide a model and stimulate the debate. We believe this country needs a modern constitution that is easy to understand, reflects New Zealand’s identity, enhances public confidence in government, and better protects rights and liberties.”
A constitution outlines the fundamental rules regarding the powers of government, how government institutions are structured and interact, as well as protections for human rights.
Compared with overseas constitutions, New Zealand’s Constitution was highly unusual in that it was made up of “a hodge-podge of rules”, was not located in one place and was very hard to find, said Sir Geoffrey.
Parts of what could be considered the current constitution were located in 45 Acts of Parliament, 12 international treaties, nine areas of common law, eight constitutional conventions, several executive orders and other legal instruments.
Trying to understand the current New Zealand Constitution was difficult and frustrating, says
Sir Geoffrey. “It is unsurprising then that New Zealanders speak little of their Constitution and think about it even less.”
However, he believes the public will engage strongly once they have specific proposals to consider and its importance becomes clear.
“We believe the recent flag debate showed there was an appetite for discussion and movement on the constitution. A constitution goes to the heart of the matter about who we are and what we believe in.”
Sir Geoffrey and Dr Butler today launched a new website on the subject at http://constitutionaotearoa.org.nz/. More specific detail about the proposals will be revealed on the site after Victoria University Press publishes the book at the end of September and the public will then be invited to make submissions to the authors.
"Public participation and involvement is a core aim of our project," says Dr Butler. "We are convinced that people should have a sense of ownership of their constitution. So we want to hear from the public before finalising our own ideas."
There could be some significant changes. For example, the authors propose a new
Constitution that would replace the idea of the Crown with a legal entity of the State. This could mean the end of the monarchy in New Zealand.
“However, it is possible to retain the monarchy and create the State,” Sir Geoffrey says. "In the book, we will be making the case for the substitution of a New Zealander as Head of
State, but whether the Queen remains Head of that State would be up to New Zealanders.
We simply want to show that it can be done, and can be done in a way that involves a minimum of fuss.”
In the meantime New Zealand’s present Constitution was incomplete and far too flexible, says Sir Geoffrey. Unlike most other countries, nearly all of New Zealand's constitutional rules can be altered very easily by Parliament. Important features, such as the Bill of
Rights, can be changed or removed with no consultation and no popular mandate.
“In our view, government should be conducted under the law. That law should apply to everyone, including Parliament. People have rights and they should be provided in a constitution that is supreme law and binds the Parliament.”
New Zealand would be more successful and better governed if there was constitutional change, says Sir Geoffrey.
“The changes we will put forward we believe are a necessary part of preserving democratic freedom in New Zealand, and of protecting the fundamental principles which anchor public power and strengthen government accountability. We want to find out if New Zealanders agree.”
A Constitution for Aotearoa New Zealand, published by Victoria University Press, will be launched at Parliament on 21 September.
27 July 2016
Wellington District Court Judge John Walker has been appointed Principal Youth Court Judge. Judge Walker is Victoria University of Wellington Law alumnus, having graduated with an LLB in 1975.
You can read Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson’s announcement here.
6 July 2016
Victoria University of Wellington law alumni David Bullock and Alexandra Sinclair were honoured at a special ceremony at Parliament last week as Fulbright New Zealand celebrated its recipients of Graduate and Scholars awards.
The awards enable talented New Zealand graduates and academics to undertake postgraduate study or research in the United States.
David Bullock, from Lower Hutt, receives a Fulbright New Zealand General Graduate Award to complete a Master of Law at the world’s fourth-ranked law school, Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. David graduated with an LLB(Hons)/BCA from Victoria University of Wellington in 2012.
Alexandra Sinclair, from Masterton, receives a Fulbright New Zealand Science and Innovation Graduate Award to complete a Master of Laws degree specialising in intellectual property and civil and indigenous rights at Columbia Law School in New York City. Alexandra graduated with a BA and an LLB(Hons) from Victoria University of Wellington in 2013.
“The Faculty of Law congratulates David and Alexandra and we look forward to following their progress once they complete their Masters degrees in the United States,” Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Law Mark Hickford says. “Having benefited from the highest standard of teaching and cutting-edge research at our world-leading, capital city Faculty of Law, our alumni have the world and incredibly diverse careers open to them.”
15 June 2016
Masters students interested in privacy law can apply for a scholarship to both assist their studies financially and give them an opportunity to work under the supervision one of the world’s leading privacy law experts, Associate Professor Nicole Moreham (pictured).
Recipients of the scholarships, supported by a Rutherford Discovery Award, will be based at the Victoria University of Wellington Faculty of Law. Masters Scholarships for LLM (Law of Privacy) are on offer for 2017 and 2018.
Dr Moreham first studied privacy law as a PhD student at Cambridge University in England and has since earned a reputation as one of the world’s leading scholars of privacy. She lectures and researches at Victoria University and her specialist interests cover the law and theory of privacy, breach of confidence, and the privacy torts.
Among her published works, in March 2016 Dr Moreham released The Law of Privacy and The Media (3ed) (OUP, 838 pp), which she edited with Sir Mark Warby, specialist English media High Court judge.
The scholarship provides a one-year tenure to give students the opportunity to complete a Masters by thesis on the law of privacy. It is open to New Zealand and international students (although the scholarship only covers domestic fees, or the equivalent).
The successful applicant will have a strong legal academic record and will need to have completed an undergraduate degree with academic distinction equivalent to New Zealand first class honours.
Possible topics for a thesis include:
- Privacy rights for the deceased and their families;
- The privacy implications of reality television;
- Privacy and social media;
- Development of common law privacy rights in New Zealand or abroad;
- Legal responses to ‘revenge porn’;
- How to fashion appropriate remedies for breaches of privacy;
- Privacy in the context of search and seizure;
- The right to be forgotten; or
- Any other privacy topic which the candidate finds interesting.
More information on the scholarships, including how to apply, can be found here.
14 June 2016
A moment of chance proved life-changing for Visiting Indigenous Scholar Emerald UnRuh, who is at the Victoria University of Wellington Faculty of Law for three months working as a student editor on the Māori Law Review.
Emerald, of Métis descent (one of the official aboriginal peoples of Canada, along with Inuit and First Nations) competed for a prestigious university scholarship in her home region of Canada – Pitt Meadows, outside Vancouver in southwestern British Colombia – in 2014/15.
“I was 17 at the time and had to fill out a long application and submit answers to several different essay questions, before moving onto regional interviews. After that, I was told I wasn't going through to a national selection, so was out of the running for the scholarship. But then another student dropped out, and I got a shot at the national interviews,” Emerald says.
In that moment of chance, Emerald had made it down from the 3800 who applied to the final 75 competing nationally.
“The national interviews were in Toronto (in February 2015) and I’d never been there before. There were about 75 young people from across Canada and it was an amazing experience meeting everyone. Just chatting and hearing what all the other students had to say was so rewarding – everyone was so inspiring.
“I did six interviews over three days and they asked deep and probing questions like what was my biggest failure and why? And who was my biggest hero?
“My biggest hero has always been my grandmother, she was a strong aboriginal woman I really looked up to, and I can’t even begin to describe how inspiring she was. I’ve always tried to follow in her footsteps and make her proud. She had passed away, and so I started to cry. Because of the crying, I thought they would never pick me, that I’d blown the interviews.
“But then I found out I had won a spot. I never thought that at 18 (years of age) I would have one of those moments where my entire life completely changed. But I did. And it has been one big, crazy journey that I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Just 30 Loran Scholarships are given out across Canada each year to exceptional young Canadians who demonstrate character, service and leadership.
One of the scholarship conditions was choosing a university outside your home province, so Emerald picked one about as far away as she could and enrolled in the University of Ottawa in Ontario, where she has been for a year, studying international development and globalisation. However, Emerald plans to study law, which, paired with her passion for indigenous issues, has drawn her to New Zealand and Victoria’s law school.
As a Visiting Indigenous Scholar at the MāoriLaw Review, Emerald has already written articles, including one about Canada endorsing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
“I am learning a lot about the law and indigenous peoples in New Zealand. Here you have the Treaty of Waitangi and what I have learned about that can be of benefit back home. I feel so lucky to be able to learn about how the law affects Māori here, I know it will help me better understand relations between policy and aboriginal peoples in Canada,” Emerald says.
She values her indigenous heritage and says she comes from a long line of strong women. Métis peoples generally come from a mix of First Nations women and French or British men and Emerald grew up with the stories of her maternal grandmother, including how her great-grandmother walked across the province of Manitoba with her three children. Large numbers of Métis moved out of Manitoba when it was brought into Canada as a province and the Métis were denied land promised to them by the Government.
Her grandmother spoke her own language – Michif, which is a mix of Cree and Métis French – and when Emerald was growing up, passed on her culture. Emerald also looks up to her mother, who is an aboriginal support worker in schools.
“My mom is another huge inspiration of mine – she is so caring, so giving. The work she does is phenomenal and she’s making a huge difference in the lives of these kids. She’s teaching them about their cultures, she’s supporting them in their academics, and she’s a friend and ally to anyone who needs it. I’m so proud of her, and I’m so lucky to be her daughter. She and the rest of my family are so strong, have always stood behind me, and make everything I do possible.”
Having never been away from home for more than 10 days prior to winning the scholarship, Emerald has embraced her experiences and is enjoying her time in Wellington – not finding it as cold in the winter as the locals might! She is at the law school until the end of July.
10 June 2016
A prize in private law will serve as an enduring reminder of Sir Ivor Richardson’s impact on New Zealand’s legal landscape and his long association with Victoria University of Wellington.
Sir Ivor died in December 2014 and left a bequest to the University that has enabled the Faculty of Law to establish the I.L.M. Richardson Prize in Private Law. The prize recognises outstanding performance by a Law student at Victoria University across four compulsory private law subjects - contract, equity, property and tort law.
Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Law Professor Mark Hickford says Sir Ivor’s gift will help support some of New Zealand’s best and brightest young Law students in an area of the law in which Sir Ivor was renowned.
Sir Ivor’s long-standing relationship with University started in 1967 when he joined the Faculty of Law as a professor. He went on to serve as Dean between 1968 and 1971. After returning to private practice for a period, Sir Ivor was appointed to the High Court in 1977 and elevated to the Court of Appeal the same year. During his 25 years at the Court of Appeal, including seven as its president, he maintained his ties with Victoria as Pro Chancellor from 1979 to 1984 and Chancellor from 1984 to 1986. On his judicial retirement in 2002, Sir Ivor was made a Distinguished Fellow of the Law Faculty.
Professor Mark Hickford says Sir Ivor’s contribution to private law, both through his judicial decisions and wider influence, was enormous.
“Sir Ivor was a lawyer, judge, academic and teacher of the highest calibre. It is very special to be able to remember him this way, and for his passion for legal education and for strengthening academic and business ties to live on through this prize.”
Each year’s prize winner will be decided by faculty staff and approved by the Dean of the Law School.
9 June 2016
Victoria University of Wellington Faculty of Law Alumni on the Queen’s 90th Birthday Honours List 2016 included:
Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM)
Ms Catherine Agnes Quinn, LLB - For services to the law and women.
Cathy Quinn is Chair of Minter Ellison, one of New Zealand's leading professional advisory firms, and has been a champion and mentor for aspiring businesswomen.
Ms Quinn is a member of New Zealand Global Women and a Trustee of Valens Group. She was a member of the Securities Commission for nine years, where she was also responsible for liaison at the governance level with the capital markets operator NZX. She was the co-author of one of the leading company and securities law texts in New Zealand, Morison's Company and Securities Law. She was appointed as a member of the Capital Markets Development Taskforce in 2008 and oversaw significant recommendations to improve New Zealand's securities law. She is recognised as a New Zealand expert on best practice corporate governance and pioneered the annual Minter Ellison Corporate Governance Symposium, which has run since 2003. She was the principal author of the Minter Ellison White Paper on Corporate Governance and has advised numerous Boards of Directors on governance matters. Ms Quinn was appointed to the Commercial Advisory Board to the New Zealand Treasury in 2014 and champions New Zealand's links with China as a member of the Executive Board of the New Zealand China Council.
Ms Victoria Ursula Spackman BA, LLB - For services to theatre, film and television.
Victoria Spackman has contributed to the theatre, film and television sectors in New Zealand in governance roles.
Ms Spackman is the Chief Executive and a shareholder of the screen and visitor experience company Gibson Group Ltd. She received the Arts and Culture Award in the 2015 Westpac Women of Influence Awards, recognising in particular her role in revitalising Bats Theatre Ltd. She had served 12 years on the Theatre's Board from 2002 to 2014. She is on the Board of Directors of Screenrights Australia, and has served six years on the Board of the Screen Production and Development Association of New Zealand (SPADA). Ms Spackman joined the Board of Education New Zealand in 2015 and has worked with Education New Zealand on a Mandarin language television series called 'Dragons in a Distant Land' about Chinese students studying in New Zealand. The series was launched by the Prime Minister in Beijing in 2013 during the celebrations of the 40-year relationship between China and New Zealand.
Queen’s Service Order (QSO)
Ms Phillippa Catherine Smith, BA, LLB, MPP - For services to the State.
Phillippa Smith has been involved in the New Zealand public sector for more than 20 years in her roles as the inaugural Assistant Auditor-General Legal, Chief Advisor Legal in the State Services Commission and as Deputy Controller and Auditor-General from 2005 to 2015.
Ms Smith has led a number of reviews and inquiries, including the David Beckham/Mount Smart stadium inquiry, Sky City convention centre inquiry, the inquiry into aspects of ACC’s board-level governance, and the reviews of the response of the New Zealand Police to the Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct. She performed the review of the Office of the Auditor-General’s handling of the complaints about Kaipara District Council’s wastewater scheme. She has contributed to the development of the structure and management of the Office of the Auditor-General, including the establishment of a new inquiries team. She played a key role as a member of the steering group for the five year policy and legislative process leading to the enactment of the Crown Entities Act 2004. She has presented internationally on independence, the constitutional role of the Auditor-General, conflicts of interest and governance. Ms Smith led the international team which completed a peer review of the Irish Audit Office.
The Queen’s Service Medal (QSM)
Reverend John Francis Drylie, LLB - For services to the community.
Reverend John Drylie has been an active leader in his community for many years, serving for 30 years as a church minister, and two terms as Westland Mayor.
In tandem with his work as a minister, Reverend Drylie also chaired the Ethics Committee for the West Coast District Health Board, the Victim’s Support Group, the Westland Foodbank, the Coast Care Trust, and the Hokitika and West Coast Minister’s Associations. Reverend Drylie is a strong supporter of young people, and as well as supporting local youth groups and Kapa Haka, he has served as Chaplain to the Fourth Westland Independent Boys Brigade Company and Charitable Trust for more than 30 years.
The full list of honours is available here: http://www.dpmc.govt.nz/honours/lists/qb2016-list
8 June 2016
Victoria University of Wellington’s Faculty of Law is now home to four Queen’s Counsel.
Professor John Prebble is the latest Faculty member to be appointed to the prestigious rank in an announcement last night by Victoria alumnus and Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson QC.
Professor Richard Boast QC, Professor Campbell McLachlan QC and Victoria Distinguished Fellow Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC are all based at Victoria’s Faculty of Law.
Appointments of Queen’s Counsel are made by the Governor-General, under the Royal Prerogative, on the recommendation of the Attorney-General, with the concurrence of the Chief Justice.
Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Law Professor Mark Hickford is delighted that Professor Prebble has been recognised with this highly-regarded appointment. “The rank of Queen’s Counsel recognises those who have excelled at the highest level of law.
“Having three Queen’s Counsel as permanent members of Victoria’s Faculty of Law and one Distinguished Fellow highlights the strength of our academic staff and the contribution they make to both research and teaching.”
Professor Prebble is one of the world’s leading tax scholars with twelve books and 230 scholarly papers. He is only the third tax academic to be granted silk (appointed Queen’s Counsel) on the basis of his scholarly work, after Professor Vern Krishna of Ottawa (1989) and Professor John Tiley of Cambridge (2009).
As measured by the Social Science Research Network, his work is downloaded more often than any other New Zealand legal scholar and even though taxation is notoriously jurisdiction-specific, he is currently the world’s third-most downloaded scholar of taxation law, after two leading American writers.
Professor Prebble’s major work has centred on the revelation that the complexity of taxation law arises not fundamentally because governments use income tax to promote non-tax objectives or because of the innumerable forms that business transactions can take, but that being necessarily based on income, which is an economic rather than a legal concept, tax law is inherently unstable to the point of incoherence.
As well as teaching at Victoria, he is a Gastprofessor at the Vienna University of Economics, where he delivers an annual course to an international audience of doctoral students.
In 2014, concerned about the small number of Pasifika students graduating in law, Professor Prebble developed a scheme to offer volunteer lawyers as academic coaches to each first-year Pasifika law student.
He is a graduate of Auckland, Oxford and Cornell universities, where his doctoral work won the Guildford Prize for the best-written thesis in all disciplines. He was called to the bar in 1968, winning the Cleary Memorial Prize for the newly admitted barrister showing the most promise of service to and through the profession. He has won numerous other prizes, notably the Hill Medal of the Australasian Tax Teachers’ Association in 2007.
Professor Prebble was a member of two Tax Consultative Committees (1980s), the Committee of Experts (1990s) and the Tax Working Group (2009–2010). He has advised the Crown on a number of New Zealand’s largest tax cases, with total recoveries of billions of dollars.
After teaching at the University of Auckland in the 1970s, Professor Prebble moved to Victoria in 1981, where he has served as Dean of Law and was appointed professor in 1987. He has also been a member of the Victoria University Council.
In addition to teaching in Vienna, Professor Prebble has taught at other overseas universities, including Southern Methodist University (Dallas), the University of Sydney, Bond University (Gold Coast), University of Melbourne, and the Paris-Sorbonne University, with shorter engagements particularly in the Netherlands and China.
Professor Prebble is best known internationally for pioneering the sub-discipline of “Jurisprudential Perspectives of Taxation Law”, which is now established internationally. The practical importance of the study demonstrates the unusual nature of tax law reasoning and the constraints on reforming taxation law.
From 1992 to 2014 he was a member of the board of trustees of the International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation, Amsterdam, the world’s largest tax research institute, and is a member of the editorial boards of seven scholarly journals. He is general editor of the Thomson Reuters New Zealand Tax Library.
24 May 2016
Law researcher Zoe Lawton explores this complex issue in the latest issue of Next magazine. Read the full article below (pdf).
18 May 2016
Harriet Farquhar spent more time than most on the stage at today’s graduation ceremony. In addition to graduating with a Bachelor of Laws with First Class Honours and a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English Literature, she was also awarded the prestigious Victoria University Medal for Academic Excellence and she delivered a formal speech on behalf of all the graduates.
To qualify for the Medal for Academic Excellence, a graduate must have been awarded the degree with First Class Honours, have a record of exceptionally high academic achievement across four or more years of study, and be recognised as the top scholar in their degree in the year of the award. The medal is not awarded unless these exceptionally high standards of achievement are met.
Commenting on what it takes to be that student Harriet says, “Let’s just say I became very, very familiar with the law school library!”
That has paid off in many ways and Harriet is now working at the Supreme Court in a coveted role, as a Judge’s Clerk to the Honourable Justice Sir Terence Arnold.
Yet studying Law was not always Harriet’s first choice.
“It was the suggestion of my careers advisor at school,” Harriet says. “I knew that I wanted to study for a BA in English literature and art history, and she suggested I try law as well.
“For the first few years of law school I was still somewhat unsure about whether it was for me, but once I had the opportunity to follow my personal interests in the 300 level electives and in the honours programme, I became sure that it had been the right decision!”
Harriet’s first dissertation was on climate change migration in the Pacific region, examining possible New Zealand responses to the issue. Her final Honours dissertation was in the area of international criminal law and proposed reform to the Statute of the International Criminal Court to ensure that those who block the provision of humanitarian assistance to civilian populations during armed conflict are able to be prosecuted.
During her time at Victoria, Harriet was involved in a number of clubs and extra-curricular groups and she tutored fellow students. She spent six months in Denmark on exchange to the Law Faculty at the University of Copenhagen.
She hasn’t discounted further study, but has a two-year commitment as a Judge’s Clerk and says this role draws on what she learned at Victoria Law.
“The focus at law school (and particularly within Honours level courses) on developing research skills is proving to be particularly important for my job at the Court, most of which is carrying out research for my Judge,” she says.
Harriet says being awarded the Medal for Academic Excellence is “very special indeed”.
“It really is a great honour, and I am so grateful to all of those people who helped me to reach my full potential during my five years at Victoria.”
Celebrations were to be with her family, who came from Auckland for the graduation ceremony, along with her flatmate (also a law graduate) and her family.
16 May 2016
Victoria Law alumna Sarah Grimmer was last week announced as the new Secretary General for the Hong Kong International Arbitration Center (http://www.hkiac.org/), with effect from September 2016.
Commenting on her new appointment in a media release, Grimmer said, “I am honoured to be appointed Secretary General of the HKIAC. Building on what has been achieved to date, I am excited to lead the Center in its provision of dispute resolution services and to ensure its continued dynamism and excellence.”
Grimmer has more than 14 years of experience in the field of international arbitration, spanning inter-State, investor-State and international commercial arbitration. She brings a wealth of institutional expertise to the Center having worked at two major arbitral institutions.
Grimmer most recently served as Senior Legal Counsel at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), The Hague, which she joined in 2006. She has acted as registrar in three inter-State arbitrations under the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention and has been appointed tribunal secretary in multiple investor-State arbitrations and contract-based disputes. Between 2002 and 2006, she was based in Paris, serving as Assistant Counsel at the ICC International Court of Arbitration and in the International Arbitration Group of Shearman & Sterling LLP. Sarah began her legal career in private practice in New Zealand in 1999. She is a graduate of Victoria University of Wellington (LLB/BA, Law/Criminology) and the University of Cambridge (LLM).
HKIAC was established in 1985 by a group of leading businesspeople and professionals in an effort to meet the growing need for dispute resolution services in Asia. So that the HKIAC could be set up initially, the Hong Kong business community and the Hong Kong Government provided funding. Today, the HKIAC is financially self-sufficient, and completely independent, specialising in arbitration, mediation, adjudication and domain name disputes resolution.
9 May 2016
Learning about climate change in the Philippines, which is particularly vulnerable to devastating weather-related events, and seeing the disparities of life in its capital city Manila, was an eye-opener for Victoria Law students Callum Beattie and Jack Barclay.
Callum and Jack joined about 800 other climate champions, from 58 countries, to attend Al Gore’s Climate Change Reality Leadership Training in Manila, in March.
Reader in Law Catherine Iorns encouraged the students to attend the training, run by the Nobel Peace laureate, former US Vice President and outspoken climate change champion, Al Gore. She had previously done it also.
The pair have returned to Wellington keen to make a mark in climate change “education, analysis and action”.
“There is cause for optimism from the Paris agreement, but its success depends on its implementation domestically,” Jack says.
The Paris Agreement, concluded in December 2015, is the first global agreement to address climate change, with 188 countries involved. New Zealand signed the agreement on 22 April 2016, the first day it was open for signature at the United Nations in New York.
“The Philippines conference was three days and there was a lot of information presented,” Callum says. “In our own domestic context, the key takeout was tools for communicating depending on different audiences and the difference between needing to hear and wanting to hear. It was related to us as a complexity budget, time budget and hope budget.”
“Education is one of the most important tools,” Jack says. “We want to use the skills we learnt at this conference to educate at a high school and tertiary level, as well as the wider public.
“It is really important for us to get young people involved in talking about climate change.”
Callum says that for law students, climate change agreements, such as the Paris agreement, present a lot of law and policy and interesting aspects for them to learn about and take on board.
The launching pad for their own climate change work is the Victoria University of Wellington Climate Change Clinic. The Clinic began at the Faculty of Law in March 2015, with students creating a website in advance of the Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21) aimed at deconstructing and analysing the agreement (www.paristext2015.com).
“This year, we would love to get the Clinic as a standalone institution that is interdisciplinary, with people from other faculties involved,” Jack says. “We held a meeting recently and people from other parts of the university with an interest in climate change attended. The goal of the Clinic is to facilitate student engagement with the issue of climate change through a range of initiatives.
“We are focused on effective action to reduce climate change risk and to hold decision-makers accountable for what they’ve agreed to [in Paris].”
New Zealand’s 2030 target, tabled during the Paris negotiations, sees it commit to reducing carbon emissions to 30 percent below 2005 levels.
While the training conference was free and food at its events was provided, the students had to be accepted on application to attend and pay their own way to the Philippines. Callum and Jack say Victoria University of Wellington was the only New Zealand university represented there.
“It was a really important experience,” Callum says. He is keen to continue his learning at COP22 in Morocco in November this year.
Catherine Iorns says the Climate Change Clinic, which she supervises, will be expanding its scope this year to include COP22 in Morocco, further monitoring the Paris agreement and making a movie about the experience of a Law student in Paris for COP21.
"As a lecturer you can really only hope to give students some ideas and encouragement,” she says. "It's really exciting to see them so enthusiastic, picking up these ideas and turning them into actions - the Clinic work and Climate Change Reality Leadership Training are an excellent addition to their law studies.”
6 May 2016
Associate Professor Alberto Costi and Research Fellow (and PhD candidate) Nathan Ross, from the Faculty of Law, visited Samoa recently to further their research and discuss the legal implications of climate change for Pacific Island nations under threat.
Their research involves two projects funded respectively by Victoria’s University Research Fund and the New Zealand Law Foundation. They examine the future legal status under international law of low-lying atoll nations whose territories are threatened by climate change, and how international law can support the relocation of people from Pacific Island States to other territories not threatened by the rising sea level.
“We are looking at ways to prevent fragmenting the populations and instead, maintain national identity, language and culture, and protect existing rights,” Associate Professor Costi says.
“The Law Foundation-funded project is also looking into the policy implications for New Zealand if it partners with any of these States on possible relocation options.”
After exploring issues pertaining to their research with the Director-General and other officials at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), they discussed the issues relating to the legal status of low-lying States during a seminar at the Tokelau Liaison Office in Apia.
A related article, Legal eagles look at international law options for climate change relocation, appeared in the April 2016 Bulletin of the Office of the Council for the Ongoing Government of Tokelau (OCOG).
The trip included the pair presenting a seminar, Climate Change, Low Lying States and International Law, at the National University of Samoa’s Faculty of Science. They also met with Samoa’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, to discuss Samoa's potential role in assisting its South Pacific neighbours in this climate change future.
7 April 2016
Victoria University of Wellington law student Indiana Shewen has been appointed 2016 student editor of the Māori Law Review, a monthly review of law affecting Māori.
Indiana is in her third year studying towards a Bachelor of Law and a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Māori Resource Management and Public Policy. She is of Te Ᾱtiawa and Ngāti Mutunga descent.
“Getting this role means a lot to me because growing up, my Mum taught me the importance of my family history and the prestige of my culture. I came to law school with the intention of using what I learn to address legal issues facing Māori,” Indiana says. “I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to support the work of so many dedicated researchers and practitioners, and to help facilitate discussion of these important issues through the Māori Law Review.”
Indiana is actively involved in her fields of study: volunteering as a law tutor for first-year university students, as well as working as a Research Assistant for Victoria University academic Dr Carwyn Jones, co-editor of the Māori Law Review.
“The Māori Law Review student editor provides us with a lot of support particularly making sure our reporting of Māori Land Court decisions is comprehensive and of high quality,” Dr Jones says. “Indiana clearly has a real passion for this area of law, and that will be a real advantage in terms of helping to ensure that the Māori Law Review continues to be a leading voice on current issues in this field. We’re really pleased to have her as part of the Māori Law Review team for this year.”
Indiana says that as a law student, she believes it is important that she remains well informed about the legal issues facing her community, particularly Māori.
“I applied for the student editor role because I want to spark more discussions. As tikanga Māori continues to gain recognition through legislation, it is clear that lawyers of my generation will be asked to consider this in their practices. I hope that law students can learn to incorporate tikanga Māori within their studies so that they are well-equipped when they enter the legal profession,” she says.
“At Victoria University of Wellington we are lucky enough to be placed right in the centre of discussions between academics, practitioners, policy analysts and researchers. The Law Faculty hosts guest speakers from all around the world and students have access to academic writing of the highest calibre - and it is all right at our doorstep!
“Student-editing Māori Law Review is a fantastic opportunity to immerse myself in these discussions and contribute to the dialogue that goes on at law school. I encourage students to get amongst these discussions by attending our Indigenous Law Speaker Series events throughout the year and following us on our Facebook page.”
Victoria University has a subscription to the Māori Law Review which allows all its students to access content online. The Māori Law Review website is here http://maorilawreview.co.nz and you can follow the Facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/MaoriLawReview/?fref=ts.
15 March 2016
Former Faculty member Caroline Morris (now at Queen Mary University, London) and Associate Professor Elisabeth McDonald have established and contributed to a prize to honour Fran Wright. A valued former member of the Victoria University Faculty of Law, Fran Wright passed away after a short illness in New South Wales, Australia on 14 April, 2014.
The Fran Wright Memorial Prize in Criminal Law will be officially launched at an early evening event at the Faculty of Law on 20 April, 2016, when Caroline is in Wellington.
The prize will be awarded to the inaugural recipient – the selection criteria being that it is a LAWS 214 student, who, in the opinion of the teachers of that course, best continues the legacy of the late Fran Wright by approaching the study of criminal law with diligence, thoughtfulness and an excellent understanding of the social and policy implications of New Zealand criminal law.
“Rather than awarding a prize for the top student in criminal law, it was agreed that a more fitting tribute to Fran would be to recognise a student who demonstrated the values Fran held so dearly,” Elisabeth McDonald says.
Fran was born in England but lived in many places and made hundreds of friends. She emigrated from the United Kingdom to New Zealand with her husband Paul. During her time in New Zealand she worked at the Faculty of Law, where she also completed her LLM. She is remembered fondly for her enthusiasm for teaching law, for research, and for life. Fran demonstrated that using law to make an argument is an incredibly creative process, and that it is the most innovative use of law which drives research forward.
“Fran was a generous and kind person. She had an open heart and an open door to colleagues – no problem was too small to bother her with and she was always bubbling with ideas about law, life and cooking,” Caroline Morris says.
Contributions to establish an endowment fund for this prize would be very welcome. Please contact Anna Burtt in the first instance. Anna.Burtt@vuw.ac.nz
3 March 2016
The legal profession is grappling with how to deal with phone-hacking, revenge porn, misuse of private information, internet trolling, bullying via social media and media intrusion, according to a new book.
Victoria University of Wellington Faculty of Law’s Dr Nicole Moreham examines this in a book launched in Wellington today, The Law of Privacy and The Media (3ed) (OUP, 838 pp), which she edited with Sir Mark Warby, specialist English media High Court judge.
Dr Moreham first studied this subject as a PhD student at Cambridge University in England and has since earned a reputation as one of the world’s leading scholars of privacy.
She says the new edition of the book responds to the continuing expansion of the law of privacy, including in the so-called ‘new media’.
“It is aimed at both practitioners and academics and responds in part to the enormous public interest in the media and privacy, particularly in high profile cases such as the phone hacking media scandal in the United Kingdom and anonymising injunctions for public figures wanting to keep information that might discredit them out of the public eye. This book is about the ongoing need to balance those individuals’ privacy interests with the competing right of the media to tell the public things that they have a legitimate public interest in knowing,” Dr Moreham says.
“But a book like this can’t be just about the mainstream media anymore. The ability of ordinary individuals to obtain and widely circulate private material is now part of our daily life. This democratisation of mass communication not only brings fresh challenges for the law, it has re-defined our understanding of the media.
“The book looks at the way that courts in England and elsewhere are grappling with these issues. Included in that is the burgeoning use of harassment legislation to protect against the disclosure of private material, particularly on the internet, and many practical ways to address internet trolling and to get material taken down from the web,” she says.
Such is the interest globally in privacy issues, Dr Lina Zhou, an Associate Professor at the Communication University of China in Beijing, is translating the book into Chinese.
The book, published by Oxford University Press, is available via their website, https://global.oup.com/academic/product/tugendhat-and-christie-the-law-of-privacy-and-the-media-9780199581153?cc=nz&lang=en&
26 February 2016
Professor Roger Clark, who received an honorary doctorate from Victoria University of Wellington in 2014, has been nominated for Nobel Peace Prize.
He is part of an international team representing the Republic of the Marshall Islands, which was left devastated by nuclear testing. The islands have launched a legal bid in The Hague to hold accountable the nine countries in possession of nuclear weapons.
Between 1946 and 1958, the United States detonated 60 nuclear weapons on the islands, the equivalent of detonating 1.7 Hiroshima bombs each day for 12 years.
Professor Clark said it would be a hard case to win, but he thought they "had a shot". Hearings on the Marshall Islands case begin in March.
Professor Clark graduated from Victoria in 1964 with a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws. He added a Master of Laws in 1967 and Doctor of Laws from Victoria in 1997, along with a Master of Laws and a Doctorate in Juridical Science from Columbia University in New York.
He has played a significant role in international human rights law—especially in helping to establish the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Professor Clark has taught at Rutgers University-Camden for over 40 years, where he insisted on the inclusion of a course on the international protection of human rights, an uncommon part of the law school curriculum in the United States at the time.
In the mid-1980s, he helped shape the discipline of international criminal law that is now taught at the majority of law schools across the United States and is the subject of specialty programmes worldwide.
The Nobel Peace Prize Laureates will be announced in October, with a ceremony in Oslo in December.
22 February 2016
Victoria University experts say it is critical people understand the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) and will tomorrow (Tuesday 23 February 2016) host a public seminar to promote discussion.
Meredith Kolsky Lewis, Gordon Anderson, Carwyn Jones and Susy Frankel, from the Faculty of Law, will give commentary about the agreement at the seminar from 10am to 12 noon at the Faculty of Law on Lambton Quay, Wellington. There will be opportunity for the audience to comment and ask questions as well.
“There is high public interest in the TPPA and informed discussion is important to ensure people understand what the agreement really means for New Zealand,” says Professor Frankel, Director of the New Zealand Centre of International Economic Law (NZCIEL). “We are expecting lively discussion tomorrow.”
Meredith Kolsky Lewis will discuss the next steps in the ratification process in the United States and prospects for the agreement; Gordon Anderson will talk to the TPPA labour chapter; Carwyn Jones will address the implications of the TPPA for Māori and rights under the Treaty of Waitangi; and Susy Frankel will cover intellectual property issues and their relationship with investment under the new agreement.
Professor Lewis from SUNY Buffalo Law School, Buffalo, New York, is also part of the Victoria Faculty of Law (part-time). She is an internationally renowned scholar of international economic law, with a particular emphasis on international trade law and the World Trade Organization, and has commentated and published extensively about the TPPA.
Professor Anderson is an employment and labour law specialist and he has written on the subject extensively, including Labour Law in New Zealand. He has written on international trade law and in particular New Zealand’s trade agreements at both bilateral and multilateral levels. He is the current Hicks Morley Professor of International and Comparative Labour Law at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.
Dr Jones, of Ngāti Kahungunu descent, is a Treaty of Waitangi and Māori law specialist. He has previously worked in a number of different roles at the Waitangi Tribunal, Māori Land Court, and the Office of Treaty Settlements and he is the co-editor of the Māori Law Review.
Professor Frankel is a globally recognised authority on international intellectual property and its nexus with international trade, including protection of indigenous peoples’ intellectual property. Her recent publications include Test Tubes Global Intellectual Property Issues: Small Market Economies (Cambridge University Press, 2015).
The panel discussion will be held in Lecture Theatre 1, Rear Courtyard, Old Government Buildings, 55 Lambton Quay, Wellington – from 10am to 12 noon on Tuesday 23 February 2016.
9 February 2016
Honourable Justice Terence Arnold, Knights Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (KNZM) for services to the judiciary. Justice Arnold was appointed a Supreme Court Judge in June 2013, having previously been a Judge of the High Court and Court of Appeal since 2006. He has taught law and been a partner in a law firm. He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1997. Justice Arnold was Solicitor-General and Chief Executive of the Crown Law Office from 2000 to 2006.
Honourable Justice Pamela Andrews, Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) for services to the judiciary. Justice Andrews was a High Court Judge from 2006 until her retirement from the bench in 2015. She has worked as a writer/journalist, in public service and as a partner in a law firm.
Honourable Justice Alan McKenzie, Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) for services to the judiciary. Justice MacKenzie was a judge of the High Court from 2004 until retiring in 2015. He has acted for government organisations around regulatory matters and advised the Reserve Bank of New Zealand and the Overseas Investment Commission.
John Te Manihera Chadwick, Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to Māori and the law. Mr Chadwick has been the managing partner of three all-Māori law firms in Rotorua. He now practices law as a Barrister. He has founded or served on a number of societies and trusts and advised government on Māori and the law.
Conrad Smith, Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to rugby. Mr Smith made his All Blacks debut in 2004 and was a member of the All Blacks squads that achieved victory at the 2011 and 2015 Rugby World Cups.
Rachel Emere Taulelei, Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to the food and hospitality industry. Ms Taulelei is an award-winning entrepreneur and business woman. She was formerly New Zealand Trade Commissioner in Los Angeles, and in 2012 received a Sir Peter Blake Leadership award. She has founded and run companies and has a number of directorships.
Judge Leslie Herrick Atkins QC, Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (QSO) for services to the judiciary. Judge Atkins was a District Court Judge from 1997 until his retirement in 2015, serving the bulk of his time in Palmerston North.
He has taught law and practised as a Barrister and Solicitor specialising in criminal law. He was appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 1990.
Heta Kenneth Hingston, Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (QSO) for services to Māori and the judiciary. Mr Heta Hingston has had a legal career spanning 40 years and is a former judge of the Cook Islands High Court and Court of Appeal and Chief Justice of the High Court of Niue. He is most notably recognised as the judge who made the initial decision on Māori ownership of the foreshore and seabed, which was upheld by the Court of Appeal in 2003.
More detailed profiles can be found here: http://www.dpmc.govt.nz/honours/lists/ny2016-list
3 February 2016
The following commentary is provided by Dr Carwyn Jones (Ngāti Kahungunu and Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki), a Senior Lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington’s Faculty of Law.
In comedy they say that “timing is everything”. There isn’t a whole lot that is funny about the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) but holding the signing in Auckland in the week leading up to Waitangi Day does show an incredible sense of timing. Waitangi Day of course celebrates the signing of a treaty that permitted the Crown to share in the exercise of public power in Aotearoa and guaranteed a range of Māori rights. The TPPA places limits on both the government’s regulatory ability and the recognition of Māori rights. Actually, now that I think about it, maybe there is some comedy to be found in all of this – that is, if you like your comedy very, very black.
In recent weeks, I’ve been involved in the public discussion around the TPPA and its effects on Māori rights. I co-authored a paper on this topic (which can be found, with others relating to the TPPA, at www.tpplegal.wordpress.com ). Our view is that the TPPA represents a significant impediment to the recognition of rights under the Treaty of Waitangi. While lobbyists and government have dismissed these concerns by pointing to the Treaty of Waitangi exception clause that is included in the TPPA, there are technical reasons why I think the TPPA does impose an additional barrier to developing Treaty-consistent law and policy, notwithstanding the exception clause. But even if you don’t feel like you need the technical detail about Māori rights and the TPPA, this is an instance where the example of how Treaty of Waitangi rights have been dealt with is illustrative of broader issues that ought to be of direct concern to all New Zealanders.
The principles of the Treaty, supported by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, direct that where Māori interests are at stake, Māori ought to be consulted about how their rights will be affected and how those rights ought to be protected. In part, this is just good practice for making fully informed decisions. This has not happened in the case of the TPPA. In fact, the whole of the TPPA has been negotiated without meaningful discussion with the New Zealand public. The government’s approach has been to tell us not to worry our pretty little heads about it because they’ll decide what is important and let us know the outcome.
In the case of Māori rights, the outcome is the Treaty of Waitangi exception clause. The text of the Treaty exception is virtually the same as that used in free trade agreements for years and trade lobbyists argue that, because there have been no challenges from foreign parties related to these exception clauses, things must be working perfectly. But the concerns around Treaty of Waitangi rights are not that the TPPA expressly prohibits the government from fulfilling its Treaty obligations but rather that it creates incentives for the government to avoid taking any action which might potentially be open to challenge. Given that many areas of New Zealand law and policy have been found to be inconsistent with Treaty principles, one might have thought that the government would be virtually continuously needing to call on these Treaty exceptions as it strives to correct this. And yet that doesn’t seem to have been the case. I am not aware that the New Zealand government has ever invoked a Treaty exception clause. That is the key weakness of an exception clause like the one in the TPPA. It relies on the New Zealand government being willing to act outside of the general rules of the agreement in order to protect Treaty rights. Governments tend to be reluctant to do this because they do not want other parties to make use of exceptions that may be applicable to them. Despite the existence of the Treaty exception, the TPPA is therefore likely to have a chilling effect on the government’s will to comply with its Treaty obligations. This is of real concern because the TPPA covers areas of law and policy such as intellectual property rights, environemental regulation, and others in which Māori have long-standing concerns about the recognition of Treaty of Waitangi rights.
Neither the process nor the substance of the TPPA text is satisfactory. It certainly does not meet the standards required of a reasonable Treaty partner, acting in good faith. Hosting the signing of the TPPA just two days before Waitangi Day only serves to underline what a tasteless joke this all is.
Well, you’ve got to laugh, I suppose.
Or else you’d cry.
1 February 2016
Can law be taught outside the traditional law school classroom? Are declarations of Parliament and the Courts the only laws for consideration? What about the laws of indigenous peoples?
Learning outside the classroom, on and from the land, should be integral to understanding our legal world.
Mark 5.30-7pm on Thursday 11 February 2016 in your diary to hear the views and experiences of Canadian Professor John Borrows – an internationally respected indigenous legal scholar. At his public lecture – open to anyone – he will explore innovative teaching approaches to give students deeper understandings of the way law works, especially in the context of indigenous peoples.
Legal obligations are generated in homes, businesses, hospitals, courts, cities, and rural landscapes. These and other legal sites should be explored and examined in more direct ways. Law schools can do more to mediate learning experiences in their immediate physical locations and much further afield.
“This is a great opportunity to hear a different perspective on how law is present in physical and social relationships from a leading international scholar,” says Dr Carwyn Jones, Senior Lecturer, Te Kura Tātai Ture - Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington - Te Whare Wānanga o te Ūpoko o te Ika a Māui.
“Professor Borrows has previously spent time in New Zealand and he is a consulting editor to the Māori Law Review, so his work contains significant insights for legal scholarship.”
About Professor John Borrows
John Borrows B.A., M.A., J.D., LL.M. (Toronto), Ph.D. (Osgoode Hall Law School), F.R.S.C., is Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law, based at the University of Victoria, British Colombia. He teaches in the areas of Constitutional Law, Indigenous Law, and Environmental Law.
Professor Borrows has served as a Visiting Professor and Acting Executive Director of the Indian Legal Program at Arizona State University College of Law in Phoenix, Arizona; Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of New South Wales, Australia; New Zealand Law Foundation Distinguished Visitor at Waikato University in New Zealand; Visiting Professor at J. Rueben Clark Law School at BYU; Vine Deloria Distinguished Visitor at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers School of Law; and LG Pathy Professor in Canadian Studies at Princeton University.
His publications include, Recovering Canada: The Resurgence of Indigenous Law (Donald Smiley Award for the best book in Canadian Political Science, 2002); Canada’s Indigenous Constitution (Canadian Law and Society Best Book Award 2011): and Drawing Out Law: A Spirit’s Guide; all from the University of Toronto Press.
Professor Borrows is a Fellow of the Academy of Arts, Humanities and Sciences of Canada (RSC), Canada’s highest academic honour; and a 2012 recipient of the Indigenous Peoples Counsel (I.P.C.) from the Indigenous Bar Association, for honour and integrity in service to Indigenous communities.
He is a consulting editor to the Māori Law Review.
Professor Borrows is Anishinabe/Ojibway and a member of the Chippewa of the Nawash First Nation in Ontario, Canada.