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University of Waikato

22 November 2013

For all of its 23 years Te Piringa – Faculty of Law at Waikato University has been committed to Māori and indigenous jurisprudence – in its teaching and research, and has long placed a strong focus on environmental law. Within the faculty two research centres have specific focus in those areas.

Te Mata Hautū Taketake – the Māori and Indigenous Governance Centre was established to meet currently unmet demands for quality research on Māori governance best practice models and to build a body of knowledge to assist further improve Māori governance. Staff also provide practical training for Māori and non-Māori who work in or with Māori governance and have established strong links with other indigenous peoples, particularly in North America and Australia.

The centre’s vision is to improve Māori governance generally, whether it concerns Māori trusts and incorporations, asset-holding companies, iwi organisations, post-settlement governance entities, marae and hapu committees; and indigenous peoples’ organisations globally.

To that end the centre recently launched a nationwide survey to better assess the governance capacities and training needs of Māori entities across Aotearoa New Zealand.

Four questionnaires for four different target audiences have been developed; three directed toward different levels of Māori governance: local (eg, marae committees), regional (eg, Māori trusts), and national (eg, major corporations and other post-settlement entities). The fourth survey questionnaire will target Kura Kaupapa to identify what governance training is provided to students, if any.

Once the survey is complete the researchers will report their findings and present a series of governance recommendations, make contributions to cutting-edge scholarship on Māori and indigenous governance, and develop governance training programmes specifically tailored to the needs of each level of Māori governance. The centre anticipates that the results will also generate discussion on developing and implementing Māori governance in Kura Kaupapa curricula.

Professor Barry Barton heads Waikato’s Centre for Environmental, Resources and Energy Law – Te Putahi o te Ture Taiāo. In 2012 Professor Barton was awarded a grant from the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment to design the legal and regulatory framework for carbon capture and storage (CCS) in New Zealand. The final report will be published in the very near future.

Professor Barton has also played a role in the Energy Cultures project based at Otago University and funded by the Ministry of Science and Innovation. The first stage of the project researched the drivers of household energy behaviours, and in the second stage, funded by MBIE, the researchers are working with the country’s transport and business sectors to support a faster and more effective uptake of energy efficiency.

Waikato and German doctoral students from the University of Bremen are part of the Intercoast programme, which has a focus on coastal zone science, law and management. Students divide their time between the two universities, and currently three Waikato law students are involved in the project.

Both centres have been able to provide scholarships and research grants to talented graduate students to encourage research relevant to their mandates.

As one of the country’s youngest law schools, Waikato has been able to take the lead in aspects of legal education. It broke the mould, deciding from the outset to teach law in a broader social, cultural, economic and policy context while advancing the bi-cultural nature of New Zealand.

It was the first law school to teach corporate entities and dispute resolution as compulsory papers and be accredited by AMINZ, thereby reflecting the contemporary economic climate and the need for practical skills-based legal learning. Te Piringa remains committed to research-led teaching in these dynamic and relevant legal fields.

Last updated on the 17th March 2016