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Barton, Barry --- "Introduction - Special Issue. Energy Regulation and Maori claims to Petroleum" [2004] NZYbkNZJur 1; (2004) 7 Yearbook of New Zealand Jurisprudence iv

Last Updated: 12 April 2015


Barry Barton

This special issue of the Yearbook arises out of seminars organized by the University of Waikato School of Law in October 2003. The seminars took as their subjects two particular matters that called for some public discussion and debate, and were the focus of research being undertaken within the School. The first, energy law reform, had come into the public eye because of great concern about electricity shortages caused by the second dry winter in three years. For those involved in energy law, and indeed other aspects of the law concerning economic activity, the establishment of an Electricity Commission in order to provide energy security and to run the wholesale market was most significant. It signified the end of light-handed regulation and reliance on self-regulation, and the beginning of a new phase of industry-specific regulation. The second matter, Maori claims to petroleum, was equally significant, in seeing the appearance of the Waitangi Tribunal Petroleum Report, which endorsed the claim that the Crown should provide redress for the deprival of iwi of an interest in petroleum resources. The Crown's swift and full rejection of such an interest was also notable. At the same time, the Foreshore and Seabed case, Ngati Apa v Attorney General [2003] NZCA 117; [2003] 3 NZLR 643 (CA) showed that a related set of issues would present major new challenges to find a suitable place for customary and Treaty rights in New Zealand law. The School is continuing its work on iwi claims to petroleum in a research programme (funded by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology) in conjunction with the the University's Department of Earth Sciences and the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences.

A seminar was organized on each subject. Both were presented in Hamilton, and then one each in Wellington and Auckland. Those in Hamilton and Wellington were closed by a commentary by the Attorney General and previous Dean of the School, Margaret Wilson. Her comments were valuable and thought-provoking. So too were observations made in the open discussion that followed each seminar. It is hoped that they provided a useful window for specific specialist communities into the research work being undertaken by the School.

The seminar contributors have all reworked their research and presentations in order to contribute to this special issue. However, it needs to be clear that the papers are for the most part a record of the seminar events. They therefore vary a great deal in their length and detail. Rather than
exhaustive research on every issue, priority has been given to getting the work out to a wider readership, and putting the contributions into the record in a permanent form. We hope that they will be useful.

As editor, I give my warm thanks to the contributors, first in the seminar events, and then in writing and finalizing their articles for publication. I also thank Janine Pickering for her able work in organizing the seminars.

Barry Barton
Professor of Law, University of Waikato

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