Te Aka Matua o te Ture | Law Commission reviews the law of Aotearoa New Zealand and makes recommendations to the Government to improve it. We also advise the Government on areas of law we consider should be reviewed.
The Commission is the only independent law reform body in Aotearoa New Zealand. We approach each law reform review with an open mind, undertake wide-ranging research, engagement and consultation, and recommend how the law should be improved.
Through our law reform recommendations and advice, we help maintain and improve confidence that the country's laws support a modern democracy, an efficient economy and a just society.
The Law Commission Act 1985 establishes the Commission and governs our work. It describes the functions and responsibilities of the Commission.
The Commission consists of between three and six Commissioners, one of whom is the President. Commissioners are appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Minister responsible for the Law Commission. Appointment is for a term of up to five years, and the term may be renewed. Commissioners may hold office on either a full-time or a part-time basis.
The President of the Commission is also the Chief Executive. The President and the other Commissioners are the Board. Read about our current Commissioners and see a list of past Commissioners.
The Commission's staff includes legal and policy advisers, law clerks and corporate support staff.
The Law Commission's ingoa Māori is Te Aka Matua o te Ture or "the parent vine of the law".
The name was adopted in 1993 on the advice of our Māori Liaison Committee and Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori | Māori Language Commission.
Te Aka Matua refers to the vine that Tāwhaki used to climb to the heavens.
Here is one version of the story of Tāwhaki, as told by Justice Joe Williams at the Commission's 30th Anniversary Symposium.
At the foot of the ascent, Tāwhaki and his brother, Karihi, found their grandmother, Whaitiri, who guards the vines that form the pathway into the sky. She warned them not to climb the aka taepe, the hanging vine, but instead to climb the aka matua, the parent vine. Karihi tried to climb the vines first but made the error of climbing up the aka taepa. He was blown violently about by the winds of heaven and fell to his death. Heeding Whaitiri's advice, Tāwhaki climbed the aka matua to reach the heavens and receive the three baskets of knowledge.
Our ingoa Māori | Māori name informs our visual design
The Law Commission's logo, a koru that is formed of the 'L' and 'C', is also based on te aka matua, nestled within a solid pillar motif. The visual relationship of geometric and organic elements working together in both the positive and negative space represents harmony between the past and the ever-growing future.
In our publications and website, the logo is used to create a tessellated pattern reminiscent of Māori carvings and tukutuku panels while also carrying through the concept of the vine and growth.
The colours we use in our publications and website also draw their inspiration from Tāwhaki climbing te aka matua to the sky, with each colour representing the various levels of the vine: clay red – within the earth, green – upon the land, and blue – into the sky.
Our vision and values
Our values underpin how we work to achieve our vision.
What we do
We identify issues with the law, research them deeply, engage with people to discover more, and recommend improvements.
Read about our current and past leadership.