Conference series set to intrigue Pasifika and tangata whenua

posted: 10:00 am - 24th January 2018

The three-part Pacific Law , Custom and Constitutionalism Conference series targets the Pasifika diaspora resident in New Zealand as well as tangata whenua and others interested in exploring Pacific law, custom and constitutionalism.

On February 13-14, the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Law  and Faculty of Arts (specifically: Criminology, and Centre for Pacific Studies), in association with AUT’s Psychology programme, Massey University’s School of Psychology and the NZ Institute of Pacific Research (NZIPR) are co-hosting the first conference, to be staged at Fale Pasifika.

This conference theme - Samoan Traditional Leadership, Customary Land Tenure and Religious Rights – will explorePacific law, custom and constitutionalism; the interface between law and Samoan traditional or indigenous leadership or law; and Samoan customary or indigenous land tenure, or law, society and religious rights in Samoa.

It is a dialogue between NZ and Samoa, and this conference will take advantage of Samoa’s recent public debates on constitutional law reform in the areas of land law, law and religion, and traditional leadership; and its relevance to Samoan and Pasifika communities in Aotearoa.

Samoans make up just under half of the total NZ-resident Pasifika population.

A special ava ceremony and preconference session between NZ Law Foundation sponsored keynote speakers and students (including high school students) is to also be held at Fale Pasifika, on February 12.   

Conference organisers hope to attract a wide-range of attendees, including postgraduate students, researchers, academics, teachers, clergy, professional practitioners in government and NGO sectors, and community members. 

The series has been split into three parts to enable sufficient time and space for proper dialogue and learning.

Part two will be a dialogue between NZ and Tonga, held next year (funding permitting).  

Tonga was the only Pacific Island nation to not undergo formal colonisation by European imperial governments.

Under its constitution Tonga retains its traditional political system but this has been subject to increasingly pressing calls for further democratisation.

The Tongan diaspora in NZ are increasing in numbers and at a higher rate than any of its other Pasifika counterparts (the Tongan growth rate between 2006-2013 was 19.5% compared to next Pasifika group – the Samoans – growth rate of 9.9%).

Tongans and Cook Islanders are the next largest Pasifika resident groups after the Samoans in NZ.

Meanwhile, the third and final conference in this series (held in 2020) will be a dialogue between Aotearoa and its self-governing ‘territories’ – the Cooks Islands, Tokelau and Niue.

The political relationship between these three Pacific Island countries and NZ creates unique legal issues for them and the way in which their respective custom laws are recognised and protected in law.

Visit Pacific Custom Law Conference for more information.