Newsletter | Te Aka Kōrero No. 15

Published: 17 December 2020

Te Aka Kōrero
News from Te Aka Matua o te Ture | Law Commission


Season's Greetings from all of us at Te Aka Matua o te Ture | Law Commission. Ngā mihi o te Kirihimete me te Tau Hou. It has been a challenging year and we hope you have a relaxed, enjoyable and safe break over the season. We are delighted to be emailing you with good news and cheer in our final edition of Te Aka Kōrero for 2020.


Our Work Programme

We have just released an Issues Paper entitled 'Class Actions and Litigation Funding | Ko ngā Hunga Take Whaipānga me ngā Pūtea Tautiringa'. We are currently seeking views on the contents of the paper. Find out how you can submit here.

In November, we released our final report 'The Use of DNA in Criminal Investigations | Te Whakamahi i te Ira Tangata i ngā Mātai Taihara'. This brings the DNA reference to a conclusion while we await a formal government response.

We intend to publish an Issues paper and other consultation materials for our Review of Succession Law in April 2021. The Issues Paper will address problems with the current law and present proposals for reform. Consultation will run until the end of May 2021. We will complete a final report by the end of 2021.

We are in the early scoping stage of projects on Surrogacy Law and on the law related to adults with impaired decision-making capacity. These projects were agreed with the Minister Responsible for the Law Commission as part of the Law Commission's 2020/21 work programme. We look forward to bringing you more on this mahi in the new year.

Our People
  • Since the last edition, we have welcomed onboard two new Senior Policy and Legal Advisers – Kate Slankard-Stone and Briar Peat.
  • We also welcomed our newest Law clerk, Rhianna Morar, and said farewell to clerks Danielle Karl and Jessica Sutton. We congratulate Danielle for her appointment as a judge's clerk in the High Court and Jessica for her selection as a 2021 Rhodes Scholar.
Our Contributions
  • Tumu Whakarae | President, Amokura Kawharu gave the keynote speech to the Legal Research Foundation AGM in Auckland on 6 August. The speech ‘Kia whanake ngā ture o Aotearoa mā te arotake motuhake | Better law for Aotearoa New Zealand through independent review’ reflects on the Commission’s role and our ambitions for the future.
  • The Privacy Act 2020 received Royal Assent in June 2020. The Commission’s report Review of the Privacy Act 1993: Review of the Law of Privacy Stage 4 was tabled in Parliament in June 2011. The new Act implements the Commission’s recommendations in that report.

What's been happening?

Last week, Commission personnel were hosted for our annual retreat at Waiwhetu Marae in Lower Hutt. The occasion was an opportunity to whakawhanaunga with mana whenua, participate in a noho marae and experience marae tikanga, as part of our ongoing commitment to te ao Māori in the Commission's work.

We were privileged to hear from Tā Hirini Mead, Justice Joe Williams and Tai Ahu on tikanga and its relationship with state law, and from Len Cook on demographic analyses of the connection between Māori and the justice system.

Adoption of te reo policy and plan

In October, the Commission's Board approved a new te reo Māroi policy and plan to align the Commission with 'Maihi Karauna', the Crown's Strategy for Mārio Language Revitalisation 2019-2023. The plan will enhance the Commission's effectiveness in meeting its statutory duty and strategic priority to take te ao Māori into account in its work. The policy has the following principles:

  • Te reo Māori is a taonga which is protected by te Tiriti o Waitangi | the Treaty of Waitangi.
  • Kaitiakitanga for te reo Māori rests with Māori.
  • Competency in te reo Māori is a valued skill.

The plan was developed collaboratively between staff and leadership at the Commission. Its goals are to develop the Commission's overall te reo capabilities over time and ensure support for the learning and use of te reo Māori across the Commission's workplace practices and contexts.

Final Report on Use of DNA in Criminal Investigations

Our report 'Use of DNA in Criminal Investigations | Te Whakamahi i te Ira Tangata i ngā Mātai Taihara' was well-received. We were proud to deliver this comprehensive plan recommending a new regime to control how DNA is obtained, used and retained for criminal investigations. Some snippets of reaction:

Paige McElhinney, Director, forensic Group Ltd

The Law Commission’s recommendations are a significant and positive step forward to protecting Māori Peoples, their culture, privacy and human rights in a rapidly evolving scientific and technological world where Māori are often not represented, or their concerns voiced.

Karaitiana Taiuru, Māori Cultural Advisor at Taiuru & Associates Ltd, final year Doctoral Student

The Law Society supports the Commission’s overall recommendation that a new and comprehensive regulatory framework for the collection and use of DNA in criminal investigations is overdue. We acknowledge this has been a significant piece of work for the Commission and look forward to seeing reform in this area develop.

Steve Bonnar QC, NZ Law Society spokesperson

This comprehensive review is a fantastic first step and the recommendations within, including the development of a DNA Oversight Committee, will not only address the current issues we see in casework but manage advances in technology into the future.

Listen: Commissioner Donna Buckingham on Checkpoint
Read: Law Commission finds flaws in DNA use for criminal investigations, calls for overhaul