Sworn on the Dirt of Graves: Sovereignty, Jurisdiction and the Judicial Abrogation of 'Barbarous' Customs in New Zealand in the 1840s

Taylor Francis Journal UK
Publication Type:
Journal Article
The Journal of Legal History, 2009, 30 (2), pp. 175 - 197
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This paper examines the judicial construction of jurisdiction over Maori in the 1840s in New Zealand. Using new data, including case material and extra-judicial commentary, it examines the first decisions by the New Zealand Supreme Court on crime between Maori (crime 'inter se'). In so doing, it briefly places New Zealand in a broader context of settler colonies, and considers how colonial judges (such as Chapman J of the Supreme Court of New Zealand) fashioned the common law to fit the contingency of local circumstance, thereby playing their part in constituting local sovereignty. Finally, the article also considers the reaction of settlers to Maori crime and these decisions.
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