New Zealand Law Society - ‘Powerful’ Digital Treaty collection now live

‘Powerful’ Digital Treaty collection now live

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Many leading works on the Treaty of Waitangi are now available digitally via a single online “e-collection,” thanks in part to Law Foundation support.

In early April, Bridget Williams Books’ Treaty e-collection went live, giving subscribers access to significant works on the Waitangi Tribunal, Treaty settlements and histories of British conquest and Treaty claims.

The e-collection includes Dame Claudia Orange’s definitive series of Treaty publications, as well as works by authors such as Judith Binney, Vincent O’Malley, Alan Ward and Aroha Harris.

The project is winning plaudits. It was described as “a powerful new platform for reading, research and education” by reviewer Morgan Godfrey, who added: “for many, this may feel like the future of publishing”.

Tom Rennie, of Bridget Williams Books (BWB), says more than 40 libraries have already subscribed to the e-collection, including city libraries, government agencies and educational institutions. Schools can have access to it via the Ministry of Education, as can the legal community through the judicial libraries network.

He says that the collection now holds mainly BWB titles, but will be expanded to include titles by other publishers – for example, an important history, Peter Adams’ Fatal Necessity: British Intervention in New Zealand 1830-47, was recently digitised and added to the collection.

Other BWB e-collections will be released soon, the next being “short books on big subjects”. For information, visit

Some other recently-completed and continuing Law Foundation projects follow.

Respecting rights when collecting DNA

Individual rights must be carefully balanced with the public good when setting the rules around acquiring DNA material from criminal suspects, an important new study has concluded.

The Collection and Retention of DNA from suspects in New Zealand analyses the state’s power to retain DNA from people not convicted of a criminal offence.

The authors, Dr Nessa Lynch, Victoria University and Dr Liz Campbell, University of Edinburgh, noted that New Zealand was an early adopter of DNA technology and compulsory acquisition in 1995, but the law has expanded rapidly, in piecemeal fashion, since then.

Drawing on United Kingdom and Canadian experience, the authors’ recommendations include reinstating a “neutral arbiter” in the decision to require a bodily sample, constraints on Police discretion to acquire samples, and judicial authorisation for using force to acquire samples.

“While DNA is a valuable tool for the prevention, detection and prosecution of crime, its limitations must also be considered when gauging the public interest in powers to collect and retain material … it is not a ‘magic bullet’ for crime detection,” the authors said.

The authors hope that the book will provide a basis for review of the Criminal Investigations (Body Samples) Act 1995.

Policy change to protect biodiversity

This Environmental Defence Society project is a follow-up to Vanishing Nature, New Zealand’s first-ever comprehensive stock-take of the country’s natural heritage and efforts to protect our threatened species.

Vanishing Nature, published in 2015, found an alarming decline in many of our native species, and challenged policy-makers to take much stronger action to arrest the decline.

Pathways to Prosperity, launched in February this year, examines new policy tools to address the challenges identified in Vanishing Nature. Its recommendations include a National Policy Statement on indigenous biodiversity, improved use of bonds under the Resource Management Act, improved biodiversity information and regional biodiversity plans.

Among the innovative policy instruments it proposes are delivery of offsets by third parties and ecosystem assessment services for biodiversity management.

Marie Brown of the EDS was the lead author of both studies, and both were backed by the Law Foundation. The short, plain-English report is aimed at the development sector, ecological professionals, policy makers and planners.

Enforcing environmental law

Another EDS project, this will investigate the modern face of enforcement of our key environmental laws including the Resource Management Act, the Wildlife Act, the Conservation Act and the Marine Mammals Protection Act.

The authors, Marie Brown and Raewyn Peart, will examine the effectiveness of monitoring, compliance and enforcement of New Zealand’s environmental institutions, structures and processes.

They say that despite evidence of innovation, environmental outcomes often do not meet public expectations. For example, a 2013 study found that non-compliance with mitigation conditions of resource consents exceeded 35%, and the Office of the Auditor-General had found evidence of interference by elected officials in technical monitoring and enforcement.

The project, which also builds on Vanishing Nature, aims to contribute to the national dialogue on environmental enforcement. Supported by Law Foundation funding of $62,500, the authors aim to publish in early 2017.

For more information on these and other projects, visit both the Grants and Publications pages on the Foundation’s website:

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

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