For New Zealand to have a legal system that reflects the best of the values and principles of its two major component cultures, the historical legal practices of both need to be understood. In comparison with the British legal system upon which New Zealand’s system is based, information about the nature and status of Māori customary law has been sparsely documented. To address this imbalance, the research institute Te Mātāhauariki has assembled a collection of references to customary Māori legal concepts and institutions from an extensive range of sources. Te Mātāpunenga is the result.
Unlike any dictionary, it is not confined to words and a technical account of their meaning and derivation. Te Mātāpunenga sets out the terms and concepts of Māori customary law as they are recorded in traditional Māori accounts and historical records, along with modern interpretations of the terms and concepts, the contexts for their cited uses, etymological information, regional differences, and the manner in which customary concepts have been recognised or modified by the legislative and judicial branches of the New Zealand government since 1840. It provides a context for each recorded use, making Māori language and concepts accessible to scholars, officials, and the general public alike. Te Mātāpunenga provides an authoritative point of reference for those wishing to engage in the ongoing public discourse on the future shape of the legal system of our country.
Compiled, edited and introduced by Richard Benton, Alex Frame, and Paul Meredith for Te Matahauariki Research Institute at the University of Waikato.
170 x 240mm