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New projects, inspiring speakers

27 March 2015

The Law Foundation recently approved funding for several exciting new projects. Some involve important research and new thinking in difficult areas of the law, while others will record significant developments in New Zealand’s legal history. We are also providing support for eminent international legal experts to speak at conferences in New Zealand, adding considerably to the value that attendees get from these events.

Among the visiting speakers this year will be Rabia Siddique, a former prosecutor of terrorist and war crimes, an international humanitarian, a retired British Army officer, a hostage survivor and the mother of triplets.

New projects

Rethinking Surrogacy – Dr Debra Wilson, University of Canterbury

Surrogacy law must address the different perspectives and rights of the child, the surrogate mother and the intended parents. Dr Wilson is leading a multi-discipline team of researchers for the three-year, four-stage project which will examine the effectiveness of current New Zealand surrogacy law. This has not been reconsidered for 10 years despite changing social and scientific conditions. It will consider reform options, drawing on international experience. The Foundation is funding the first, scoping stage of this project.

Shirley Smith biography – Sarah Gaitanos

The late Shirley Smith was a New Zealand legal pioneer. A Wellington barrister, she fought for the rights of underprivileged and disadvantaged youth, and represented Mongrel Mob and Black Power gang members. She was also the first woman legal academic at a New Zealand university. The Foundation’s research funding will help Sarah Gaitanos complete the book by October 2016, the 100th anniversary of Shirley Smith’s birth.

Native Land Court decisions 1910-1953 – Professor Richard Boast, Victoria University

This will be the third of a three-volume series recording the principal judgments and decisions of the Native Land Court and its associated bodies. These judgments are New Zealand’s largest unpublished sources of important case law, and are directly relevant to modern law, for example in negotiations over rivers, lakes and the foreshore. This last volume will cover a period when the Māori land system changed dramatically due to land development, the establishment of land incorporations and trusts, and consolidation schemes.

Analysis of ACC appeal decisions since 2009 – Acclaim Otago

This study by Acclaim Otago, a support group for people disabled by injury, will examine a sample of ACC appeal decisions by different courts. The aims are to inform the proposed new ACC appeal tribunal and to provide useful accessible information for the appeals process. Acclaim Otago says there is a severe lack of data on barriers to justice faced by ACC claimants.

Updating Mental Capacity Law and Practice – Alison Douglass

Last year Dunedin barrister Alison Douglass won New Zealand’s premier legal research award, the New Zealand Law Foundation International Research Fellowship. She will use the award to research New Zealand law and process on mental capacity, to ensure consistency with contemporary thinking and best practice standards. The research is topical given the growing problem of diminished capacity, driven by the ageing population and increasing prevalence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

International expert speakers

This year the Foundation is providing more than $76,000 to bring international speakers to seven conferences:

Family Violence, the Law and Restorative Justice.

Victoria University of Wellington, 7 May.

A one-day conference exploring innovative approaches to family violence based on restorative justice, followed by a professional development workshop for restorative justice facilitators and family violence workers.

Keynote speaker: Professor Leigh Goodmark, Frances King Carey School of Law, University of Maryland, USA.

Māori Engagement in NZ’s Extractive Industry: Innovative Legal Solutions.

University of Waikato, 26-27 June.

A symposium examining how Māori engagement with the extractive industry may be improved, looking at recent developments in international law along with state and extractive industry practice.

Keynote speakers: Professor Marcia Langton, Foundation Chair of Australian Indigenous Studies at the University of Melbourne, and Professor Saleem Ali, Director of the Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining at the University of Queensland.

Youth Advocates and Lay Advocates.

NZLS CLE Ltd, Ellerslie Events Centre, Auckland 13-14 July.

Conference for youth advocates and lay advocates involved in the youth justice system, with a particular focus on neurodisabilities.

Keynote speaker: Professor Dame Sue Bailey, immediate past Chair, Royal College of Psychiatrists, United Kingdom.

Arbitrators’ and Mediators’ Institute of NZ (AMINZ).

Wellington, 23-25 July.

Annual national dispute resolution conference – focus this year on new initiatives in dispute resolution.

Keynote speakers: John Sturrock QC, Scotland’s leading commercial mediator; Michael Kirby, Australia’s longest-serving judge and past President of Institute of Arbitrators and Mediators Australia; Wendy Miles QC, international arbitrator.

Therapeutic Jurisprudence.

University of Auckland, 3-4 September.

Conference examining therapeutic jurisprudence as a global law reform model capable of helping tackle complex and difficult social problems.

Keynote speakers: Professor David Wexler, Director of the International Network on Therapeutic Jurisprudence at the University of Puerto Rico; Professor Michael Perlin, New York Law School; Professor Ian Freckleton, University of Melbourne.

17th Triennial Commonwealth Magistrates and Judges Conference.

Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington, 13-18 September.

This will be the first time that this conference will have been held in New Zealand. The theme will be “Independent Judiciaries, Diverse Societies.” Law Foundation funding will help Pacific Island judges attend the conference.

2012 Law Foundation International Research Fellow Dr Emily Henderson will take part in a panel session on cross-examination of vulnerable witnesses.

Professional Women’s Conference.

Rydges, Christchurch, 9 October.

Organised by the Canterbury Women’s Legal Association.

Keynote speaker: Rabia Siddique, former prosecutor of terrorist and war crimes.


Links to information on these events, and to the speakers, can be found at the Law Foundation website www.lawfoundation.org.nz (see the News and Events sections on the home page).


Lynda Hagen is the Executive Director of the New Zealand Law Foundation.

Last updated on the 17th March 2016