Between Justice and Law in Aotearoa New Zealand: Two Case Studies
Author: Pritchard, S.
Source: Law and Critique, Volume 11, Number 3, 2000 , pp. 267-286(20)
Abstract:Through two case studies, this essay examines the relationship between the operation and practice of law in Aotearoa New Zealand and the naming of the `unlawful', `uncivil' or `disorderly' within a colonial context. Against the background of the apparent complicity between law and colonial interest and desire in Aotearoa, I argue that, in both the `Haka Party' case (1979) and Mair v Wanganui City Council (1996), the acts of the defendants draw attention to the relationship between the authority of the law and the repression or exclusion of difference. According to the judges in both cases, the dictates of Maori law and custom were in conflict with the principles of `law and order'. Read in terms of colonial relations, the perceived relationship between Maori law and custom and the threat to `civilisation', law and order reveals the way in which `the law' has operated in a culturally biased manner and has reflected the interests of Pakeha (New Zealanders of European descent). Thus, the perceived threat of the challenge made to the law in either case can be seen as the threat to reveal it for what it is, to expose the violence that maintains it, and thus to open a space for critique. Perhaps more powerfully than any physical attack on the system itself, these acts which expose the law challenge it in the name of justice, making it possible for the law to be seen both as a reflection of a particular cultural interest and hence as co-opt-able, takeable and able to be made to serve another end, that of the other in the name of justice.
Document Type: Regular Paper
Affiliations: Centre for Comparative Literature & Cultural Studies, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, E-mail: email@example.com
Publication date: January 1, 2000