Indigenous Peoples and Family Law: Issues in Aotearoa/New Zealand

Posted: 29 Feb 2008

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: December 2005


This article provides a glimpse into how historical and current legislation has attempted to grapple with the practice of customary family law by the indigenous peoples of Aotearoa/New Zealand. It focuses on examining family law in two contexts: marriage and property ownership; and children and legal parenthood. The analysis provides an interesting insight into the interplay between customary law and statute law. The impact of colonization upon indigenous peoples and the practice of their law, and how governments today choose to recognize and provide for indigenous peoples is a policy issue prevalent in many of the British colonized lands. This article concludes that a comprehensive review of the nature and extent to which legislation should provide for Maori customary law is required in Aotearoa/New Zealand. The haphazard approach of current years is insufficient.

Suggested Citation

Ruru, Jacinta, Indigenous Peoples and Family Law: Issues in Aotearoa/New Zealand (December 2005). International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family, Vol. 19, Issue 3, pp. 327-345, 2005, Available at SSRN:

Jacinta Ruru (Contact Author)

University of Otago ( email )

P.O. Box 56
Dunedin, Otago 9010
New Zealand

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