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New Zealand Yearbook of New Zealand Jurisprudence

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Satyanand, Hon Sir Anand --- "Foreword. Tuhonohono: Custom and State - a Symposium" [2011] NZYbkNZJur 1; (2010-2011) 13-14 Yearbook of New Zealand Jurisprudence i

Last Updated: 25 April 2015





Elders of Tainui, Your Honours (Judges), Officials and Scholars of the University, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, I greet you in the languages of the realm of New Zealand – English, Māori, Cook Island Māori, Niuean, Tokelauan and Sign Language.

I stand before you today not only in the capacity of Governor-General, but also as a former member of the Te Mātāhauariki Research Institute Advisory Panel from 1997 to 2006. As such, I have amongst you many personal and professional friends.

There is a connection between Te Mātāhauariki and Government House that bears mention. At the launch of Dr Alex Frame’s book Grey and Iwikau: a journey into custom at Government House in 2002 the Institute gifted an illustration from the book to Government House and it still hangs in Government House and is a reminder of the connection.

Tūhonohono, a linking together or bonding, is the central principle of this symposium. It describes the dual mandate of the symposium, which is first to present the Institute’s work, Te Mātāpunenga: A Compendium of References to the Concepts and Institutions of Māori Customary Law, and secondly to discuss the place of Māori customary law in New Zealand.

During my time with Te Mātāhauariki the Te Mātāpunenga project was devised

and nurtured over time. It is a thrill to see it finished.

It reflects the Institute’s objective to join the customary visions of Māori and

Pākehā in a cohesive New Zealand jurisprudence.

It also reflects the coming together of Pacific scholars to advance the understanding of custom law and its contribution to state legal systems.

  1. Opening Address at the Symposium, Tainui Endowed College, Waikato, 22 June 2007, slightly abridged. Original text may be downloaded from <> .

ii Yearbook of New Zealand Jurisprudence Vols 13 & 14

The symposium is based on three themes, finding, understanding and applying custom. Each theme flows logically to the next, as one cannot apply or understand custom without first finding its location. However, as these three themes will be the subject of much discussion over the following days I would like to comment briefly on what I consider to be the importance of tikanga Māori to New Zealand in 2007.

Where we have come from, as a nation, is important in determining the relevance of tikanga Māori today. As recipients of an English judicial system, we inherited English common law and legislation yet, even at an early stage, tikanga Māori was recognised. I quote Sir John Salmond in 1924 in reference to the Native Rights Act 1865 from Grey and Iwikau: A Journey into Custom: “aboriginal Maoris should to a large extent continue to live by their own tribal customs, and to this extent those customs were given by statute, and still remain, the authority of law”.2

As a distinct New Zealand customary law developed the survival of tikanga Māori has often been attributed to its dynamic nature and its ability to change. The disappearance of some practices – such as deliberate cursing – and the arrival of others – such as burial practices – is an example of the adaptability of tikanga Māori.

In conjunction with this, a continual recognition and application of tikanga Māori by Judges in our courts has seen it survive and, if anything, gain importance as a part of New Zealand common law. Today it is of practical relevance in sentencing, in family protection claims or where a statute expressly requires consideration of it, for example the Resource Management Act. It is also applied in situations where customary law survives unaffected by any other subsequent legislation.

This symposium will not only explore the origins of tikanga Māori but perhaps, more importantly, consider the future role it may play in our legal system. With the attendance of our Pacific neighbours, where native customary law is in many cases more prevalent, much can be learned both from their experiences and our own over the next two days.

I would like to close by resonating a Māori proverb which I believe is reflective of the symposium’s purpose:

Waiho i tetoipoto, kaua i tetoiroa

“Let us keep close together, not far apart.”

2 Sir John Salmond Jurisprudence or the Theory of Law (7th ed, Stevens and Haynes, London,

1924) at 210, quoted in Alex Frame Grey and Iwikau: A Journey into Custom (Victoria

University Press, Wellington, 2002) at 64.

2010 & 2011 Foreword iii

I wish Tainui Endowed College and Te Mātāhauariki Research Institute all the best for the Tūhonohono: the State and Custom Symposium 2007.

I began speaking in all the New Zealand realm languages. May I close by speaking in Māori issuing greetings and wishing you good health and fortitude in your endeavours.

Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, kia ora, kia kaha, tēnā koutou katoa.

iv Yearbook of New Zealand Jurisprudence Vols 13 & 14

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