Maori component in law degree studies welcomed

A move to make tikanga Maori part of training for a law degree has been welcomed by the University of Otago’s Faculty of Law.

But Otago’s acting dean of law said it was too early to know what the coming change could mean for the school or its students.

The New Zealand Council of Legal Education decided this month that te ao Maori concepts, particularly tikanga Maori, should be taught in each of the core law subjects at bachelor-level law programmes at New Zealand universities.

Otago acting law dean Prof Shelley Griffiths and law Prof Jacinta Ruru said in a joint statement the decision would result in changes to the five compulsory courses in the university’s law degree — contract, tort, criminal, property and public law — but it was too early to know the nature of the changes.

They were pleased with the council decision and looked forward to ‘‘developing our thinking and practice as we work together on this’’, they said.

A spokesman from the Justice Minister’s office said the legal education council would consult on the proposal with the legal sector and others, but referred comment to the council.

Consultation would include academics, students, graduates, legal practitioners, iwi and other Maori organisations, and others, the council said.

The council would consider the results of the consultation process at its November meeting this year.

Any recommendations to change the legal education curriculum at universities was subject to the approval of the Minister of Justice, it said.

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