Lecture Notes on the Constitutional Law of New Zealand

128 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2020 Last revised: 21 Jul 2020

Date Written: 2020


This document is a compendium of my lecture notes prepared while I taught four successive iterations of the Constitutional Law paper at the Auckland University of Technology Law School. It is not meant to be comprehensive: its coverage is to an extent a function of the number of lectures I had in a semester, and of my (rather optimistic) beliefs about what I might cover in a lecture. Some important topics (like the separation of powers and the common law) are covered very little; others (like the Treaty of Waitangi and arguments for and against an entrenched constitution), insufficiently. Moreover, I tried to pitch the notes at a level that could be processed by students very early in their study of the law. Inevitably, this meant simplifying certain things, perhaps more, in some cases, than would have been ideal.

I hope that, despite their shortcomings, these materials can provide those who are not familiar with New Zealand’s constitutional law with an accessible introduction to the subject. The lectures cover three main themes: the constitutional fundamentals (including the nature, history, and sources of New Zealand’s constitution), the structure of government (with two lectures each devoted to the executive and the legislature, and one to the judiciary), and limits on government power (primarily, the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act, the Treaty of Waitangi, and the Rule of Law). They seeks mainly to present the law as it is, but they incorporate some commentary and critique on my part, which should be clearly easily identifiable as such.

These notes were originally written in the second half of 2016, and were thoroughly revised and updated every time I taught constitutional law in 2017, 2018, and 2019. I have further updated them, but not as thoroughly, when putting the document together in January 2020.

Keywords: New Zealand, Constitutional Law, Westminster Model

Suggested Citation

Sirota, Leonid, Lecture Notes on the Constitutional Law of New Zealand (2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3522293 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3522293

Leonid Sirota (Contact Author)

AUT Law School ( email )

AUT City Campus
Private Bag 92006
Auckland, 1142
New Zealand
+64 9 921 9999 ext 5531 (Phone)

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