Open Letter of Support for the Compulsory Tikanga Māori Paper in the LLB 6 June 2024

07 Jun 2024

Open Letter of Support for the Compulsory Tikanga Māori Paper in the LLB
6 June 2024

The New Zealand Law Librarians’ Association (NZLLA) expresses its strong support for the compulsory inclusion of tikanga Māori in Aotearoa New Zealand’s legal education curriculum.

The NZLLA is a professional association representing law librarians and legal information professionals in Aotearoa New Zealand. Our members routinely engage with government material, public records, case law, legislation, and legal commentary.

Recognition as Part of New Zealand Law
Tikanga is a fundamental aspect of Aotearoa and is recognised as a source of common law in New Zealand. Given the frequent references to tikanga in Acts of Parliament and its acknowledgement by the Supreme Court of New Zealand, it is essential that teaching tikanga be a compulsory part of legal education in New Zealand.

Building Cultural Competence
Enhancing cultural capability within our Association is a strategic priority. We are striving to learn more in this area so that our association reflects New Zealand society and better serves our communities. As noted by the Law Commission, He Poutama (NZLC SP24 2023) at 5, “The breadth and depth of tikanga is often overlooked and misunderstood. This has potential implications both for the integrity of tikanga and the coherent development of state law.” It is crucial for those in the legal sector to improve their understanding of tikanga, its interaction with state law, and how future engagement may evolve.

Inclusion of tikanga in legal education helps law students and legal professionals develop cultural competence, helping to equip future lawyers to engage with clients and communities more effectively across New Zealand about their legal issues. Tikanga is also recognised as an important area of continuing professional development for lawyers in practice.

Holistic problem solving
Legal issues often intersect with cultural, social, and historical factors. Tikanga Māori promotes a holistic approach that considers legal rules alongside the well-being of individuals and communities.

Including tikanga Māori in legal education is an investment in the future of our legal profession. NZLLA is proud to support the compulsory tikanga paper, ensuring that our legal education reflects the richness of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Erin Cairney
NZLLA President


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