Te Matahauariki Research Institute

"The overall aim of this research is to explore ways in which the legal system of Aotearoa/New Zealand can evolve so as to accommodate the best of the values and concepts of both major components of its society"


    Wednesday, June 7, 2006
Symposium‘Concepts in Polynesian Customary Law'

On Tuesday 12 October 2004, Te Matahauariki Institute held a Symposium on ‘Concepts in Polynesian Customary Law' at the recently-opened Fale Pasifika at the University of Auckland . The Symposium was chaired by the Institute's past Director. Judge Michael J.A. Brown. Five Papers were delivered as follows:


The Symposium opened with a Paper by Dr Anne Griffiths , a leading scholar on the anthropology of law from the University of Edinburgh who spoke on ‘Customary Law in a Transnational World' .


Other Papers were delivered by: (papers are available for download by clicking on title)

Dr Richard Benton : ‘Lexicography Law and the Transformation of New Zealand Jurisprudence'

Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese : ‘Resident, Residence, Residency in Samoan Custom'

Dr Tui Adams , Dr Alex Frame and Paul Meredith: ‘Performance and Maori Customary Legal Process'

Dr Alex Frame and Ms Joeliee Seed-Pihama : ‘Some Customary Legal Concepts in Maori Traditional Migration Accounts'

Require Acrobat Reader this is available for free download

  • The Papers are available on this website in in ‘presentation form'. It is intended that they be refined and edited for publication in the near future. Although the authors have agreed to their Papers being made available in this preliminary form, they request that their consent be obtained for any quotation and that any such quotation specify that the Papers are in draft form. Short biographical details on the Presenters follow.


    Dr ANNE GRIFFITHS obtained her Ph.D from the University of London in 1988. She has a Chair in the Anthropology of Law at the University of Edinburgh and holds a visiting Professorship at the University of Texas . She is also associated with the Max Planck Institute for Social research in Halle , Germany , where she has been working with Professors Franz and Keebet von Benda-Beckmann on the transnational dimensions of law.. She is currently editing a book entitled Mobile People, Mobile Law: Expanding Legal Relations in a Contracting World. The importance of this work in the light of current conditions posed by globalisation has been recognised by the E.S.R.C. and the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research who have awarded Dr Griffiths grants to fund meetings involving an interdisciplinary group of international scholars at the universities of Edinburgh , London , and Sussex

    TUI ATUA TUPUA TAMASESE EFI . Was For six years (1987 – 1993) a commissioner of the South Commission, headed by Julius Nyrere and headquartered in Geneva . He has served in the Samoan Parliament as MP, Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Prime Minister and Prime Minister. He has published one book in English and two in the Samoan language, one of which Ia faagaganaina was in 1990 the Samoan entry in the UNESCO's category for Indigenous literature. He has published articles in the Canterbury and ANU academic journals, and The Social Policy Journal of New Zealand. In October 2003 he was appointed as Adjunct Professor at Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi, Whakatane , New Zealand .

    Dr ALEX FRAME LL.D (VUW) is a barrister in Wellington . He is an Honorary Fellow of the Faculty of Law at Victoria University of Wellington. His biography of Sir John Salmond (1862–1924), Salmond: Southern Jurist , was published by Victoria University Press in 1995: it was awarded the E.H. McCormick Prize at the 1996 Montana Book Awards, and the J.F. Northey Prize for best legal publication in the same year. Alex is acting co-director of the Te Matahauariki Institute at Waikato University and recently completed a study of the way in which our legal system might better reflect Maori customary law : Grey and Iwikau: A Journey into Custom was published by Victoria University Press in 2002. Alex has been a teacher of public law for many years and has advised extensively on constitutional questions in the South Pacific, and on Treaty of Waitangi matters in New Zealand .

    DR RICHARD BENTON studied History at the University of Auckland and aspects of Northern Mäori tradition and political history under the guidance of some senior traditional experts before completing an MA and PhD in Linguistics at the University of Hawaii . He spent 25 years as Tumuaki (head) of the Mäori issues section of the New Zealand Council for Educational Research and wrote and lectured extensively in New Zealand and internationally on language policy, bilingual education and related matters, with a focus the status of local and international languages in education and government. He was also one of the official New Zealand representatives to the initial sessions of the Polynesian Languages Forum in NZ, Tahiti and Hawaii . More recently he has been Deputy Director of the Centre for Mäori Studies and Research of the University of Waikato , Director of the James Henare Mäori Research Centre at the University of Auckland , and, currently, Adjunct Professor with Te Mätähauariki Institute.

    DR TUI ADAMS is a senior researcher and the kaumatua of Te Matahauariki Institute. He was a recipient of the Queen Services Medal in 2000 for services to the Maori community and in 2003 received an honorary doctorate from The University of Waikato. Tui Adams is also a kaumatua of Te Wananga o Aotearoa and runs the Te Arataki Manu Korero programme. Te Arataki Manu Korero is a series of classes to help Tainui elders better understand Tainui tikanga and history. Tui is recognised nationally for his expertise in the knowledge systems of Waikato , Maniapoto, Hauraki and Raukawa.

    JOELIEE SEED-PIHAMA is an assistant researcher for Te Matahauariki Institute at the University of Waikato . She has recently completed her Master of Arts in Maori and also holds a Post-Graduate Diploma in Translation and Interpretation and a B.A. in Maori with first class honours from The University of Waikato.

    PAUL MEREDITH is of Ngati Kaputuhi, Maniapoto and Pakeha descent. Paul has degrees in law and Maori studies and is a Research Fellow at Te Matahauariki Institute. Paul has a particular interest in historical Maori language manuscripts, letters and newspapers. He has recently completed a study of the operation of legislation in 1912 allowing the 'Europeanisation' of Maori.




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