Juridical Encounters: Māori and the Colonial Courts, 1840-1852

Shaunnagh Dorsett

From 1840 to 1852, the Crown Colony period, the British attempted to impose their own law on New Zealand. In theory Māori, as subjects of the Queen, were to be ruled by British law. But in fact, outside the small, isolated, British settlements, most Māori and many settlers lived according to tikanga. How then were Māori to be brought under British law?

Influenced by the idea of exceptional laws that was circulating in the Empire, the colonial authorities set out to craft new regimes and new courts through which Māori would be encouraged to forsake tikanga and to take up the laws of the settlers. Shaunnagh Dorsett examines the shape that exceptional laws took in New Zealand, the ways they influenced institutional design and the engagement of Māori with those new institutions, particularly through the lowest courts in the land. It is in the everyday micro-encounters of Māori and the new British institutions that the beginnings of the displacement of tikanga and the imposition of British law can be seen.

Juridical Encounters presents one of the first detailed studies of the interactions of an indigenous people in an Anglo-settler colony with the new British courts. By recovering Māori juridical encounters at a formative moment of New Zealand law and life, Dorsett reveals much about our law and our history.

 

 

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Author

Shaunnagh Dorsett is Professor of Law at the University of Technology Sydney and Research Fellow in the Faculty of Law at Victoria University of Wellington. She is the author or editor of a number of books, including Law and Politics in British Colonial Thought: Transpositions of Empire (Palgrave McMillan, 2010, edited with Ian Hunter); Jurisdiction (Routledge, 2012, with Shaun McVeigh); and Legal Histories of the British Empire: Laws, Engagements and Legacies (Routledge, 2014, edited with John McLaren). She was the leader of the New Zealand Law Foundation’s ‘Lost Cases’ Project.

 

September 2017, 152 x 228 mm, 344 pages
ISBN 9781869408640, $49.99