Close this search box.

Your Hub for NZ News

What is the measure of a man’s mana? Rachael Evans on the challenge of integrating Māori Tikanga into New Zealand’s legal system

Summarised by Centrist

In citing damage to his mana, the Supreme Court’s decision to posthumously overturn Peter Ellis’ convictions set a “remarkable precedent” for integrating Māori tikanga into common law, according to University of Canterbury law lecturer Rachael Evans.  

Yet, there are limits. Evans says the difficulties lie in defining words like “mana” and how tikanga will be handled overall in the common law. 

“Asking a common law judge to weigh up a person’s mana comes with some pressure. Also, a leader perceived to have greater mana may be entitled to a discharge without conviction when an ordinary person may not be,” writes Evans.

She notes that in the recent case of Sweeney v Prison Manager of Spring Hill Corrections Facility, Sweeney’s attempt to create a new cause of action based on damage to mana was dismissed. 

Yet, in another recent case, Green v Police, a discharge without conviction was granted due to the Court’s concern over the negative impact on Green’s mana a conviction would carry. 

Evans argues that these cases illustrate the essential importance of education about tikanga in law degrees. 

According to Evans, the court’s ability to develop authoritative jurisprudence comes with ensuring that lawyers can effectively advise clients properly when it comes to tikanga. 

Without this knowledge, there is a risk of distorting tikanga, potentially undermining its cultural integrity, writes Evans.

Editor’s note: Click for Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of our series on Tikanga in the law. 

Read more over at The Conversation

Enjoyed this story? Share it around.​

Notify of
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Read More


Sign up for our free newsletter

Receive curated lists of news links and easy-to-digest summaries from independent, alternative and mainstream media about issues affect New Zealanders.