The state legal system recognises some aspects of tikanga Māori as customary law. In recent years, there has been a growing recognition by legal academics and practitioners that Māori law is not limited to those practices that the state legal system incorporates. Māori legal traditions exist as part of a distinct Māori legal system. This project aims to build on that foundation but also represents an important shift from the existing literature. The objective is to develop an internal perspective of Māori law, exploring the overarching framework by interrogating specific instances and practices of Māori law-making and dispute resolution.
This project seeks to understand Māori legal traditions on their own terms, rather than through the lens of the state legal system and will focus on identifying Māori legal reasoning from within traditional Māori stories. The project will develop a case-analysis framework that is specifically tailored to Māori legal traditions. This project has the potential to radically increase the accessibility of Māori law in a way that not only empowers Māori communities but also enables the state legal system to engage with Māori legal issues with a significantly greater degree of sophistication than is currently the case.