Welcome to New Zealand's Lost Cases Project

The New Zealand's Lost Cases project involves the systematic search for, and collation of, early New Zealand cases. These cases exist, not in law reports, but in newspapers, manuscript collections, archives and judges notebooks. Many of these cases have been simply forgotten. While New Zealand had comparatively good early law reporting, only a selection of cases was formally reported. To date we have retrieved all Supreme Court and Court of Appeal cases for the period 1842-1869.

There are two searchable databases - the Source Database which shows where court records can be found around New Zealand for the period 1840-1883 and the Case Database that provides a record of all cases heard by the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal in the period 1842-1869.

New Zealand's Lost Cases Project was funded by the New Zealand Law Foundation. The Project was also overseen by a Reference Group, composed of eminent persons from New Zealand and overseas.

Early ordinances, which complement this material, can be accessed via NZLII or the AUSTLII Legal History Library.


The Banner Image is taken from C.W. Richmond Judge's Notebooks, Vol.1-3, 1864-1873, MSS R532,
J.C. Beaglehole Room, Victoria University of Wellington