Author(s): Richard Benton et al
For New Zealand to have a legal system that reflects the best of the values and principles of its two major component cultures, the historical legal practices of both need to be understood. In comparison with the British legal system upon which New Zealand's system is based, information about the nature and status of Maori customary law has been sparsely documented. To address this imbalance, the research institute Te Matahauariki has assembled a collection of references to customary Maori legal concepts and institutions from an extensive range of sources. Te Matapunenga is the result. Unlike any dictionary, it is not confined to words and a technical account of their meaning and derivation. Te Matapunenga sets out the terms and concepts of Maori customary law as they are recorded in traditional Maori accounts and historical records, along with modern interpretations of the terms and concepts, the contexts for their cited uses, etymological information, regional differences, and the manner in which customary concepts have been recognised or modified by the legislative and judicial branches of the New Zealand government since 1840. It provides a context for each recorded use, making Maori language and concepts accessible to scholars, officials, and the general public alike. Te Matapunenga provides an authoritative point of reference for those wishing to engage in the ongoing public discourse on the future shape of the legal system of our country.