Tikanga as the First Law of New Zealand
An Important Cognitive Shift
This article provides an overview of the history of the Māori Land Court, as well as present day developments of the Court. It considers the role that tikanga (Māori customary values and practices) plays in the Māori Land Court, and how the Court has applied tikanga in a number of contemporary judgments. It then considers the Waitangi Tribunal (a Commission of Inquiry which examines Crown breaches of its obligations to Māori), and how tikanga can be demonstrated in the process and the findings of the Tribunal. It discusses how both judicial bodies have approached the challenge of competing tikanga claims. Finally, the article poses ideas of how tikanga can be applied going forward.
Keywords: tikanga; Māori Land Court; Native Land Court; Waitangi Tribunal; indigenous law; cultural considerations.
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