Newsletter | Te Aka Kōrero No. 17

Published: 16 December 2021

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. We hope you have a relaxed, enjoyable and safe break over the season. We are delighted to be emailing you with news about the Commission in our final edition of Te Aka Kōrero for 2021.


Appointment of new Commissioners

The Minister Responsible for Te Aka Matua o te Ture | Law Commission, Hon Kris Faafoi, has announced the appointment of three new Commissioners: Hon Justice Christian Whata, Geof Shirtcliffe and Professor Claudia Geiringer.

Justice Whata (Ngāti Pikiao and Ngāti Tamateatūtahi) is a High Court Judge. He began a one-year term as Commissioner on 12 October 2021. He has been appointed to undertake a short-term project leading the Commission's work in relation to tikanga Māori, with a particular focus on the relationship between tikanga Māori and State law.

Geof Shirtcliffe was previously a corporate partner at the law firm Chapman Tripp specialising in the fields of company and commercial law. Geof started his five-year term as Commissioner on 6 September 2021. He is leading a project on adult decision-making capacity. Ngā Huarahi Whakatau.

Professor Geiringer is the Chair in Public Law at Victoria University and an expert in human rights, and constitutional and administrative law. Professor Geiringer will take up her appointment in May 2022.

Te Aka Matua o te Ture recommends new law about who inherits property when someone dies

Te Aka Matua o te Ture | Law Commission has completed its Final Report in the Review of Succession Law project: He arotake i te āheinga ki ngā rawa a te tangata ka mate ana | Review of succession law: rights to a person's property on death.

The law relating to who gets a person's property when they die is important law that affects all New Zealanders. The Commission has concluded that new law is needed to keep up with social change and meet New Zealander's reasonable expectations.

The report recommends that Part 8 of the Property (Relationships) Act 1976, the Family Protection Act 1955 and the Law Reform (Testamentary Promises) Act 1949 be repealed. In their place, the Commission recommends that there be a new Inheritance (Claims Against Estates) Act to be the principal source of law regarding entitlements to and claims against estates. This new Act should:

  • weave new law that reflects tikanga Māori and other values shared by New Zealanders;
  • provide that tikanga Māori determine succession to taonga;
  • continue a surviving partner's rights to a division of relationship property when their partner dies;
  • provide for when certain family members can claim further property from an estate despite what the will says or the intestacy rules say;
  • restate a revised testamentary promises cause of action;
  • give courts greater powers to access property outside an estate to meet awards made against an estate; and
  • support efficient and effective dispute resolution both in and out of court.

In addition, the Commission recommends that the rules under the Administration Act 1969 governing the distribution of intestate estates should be reformed.

The Commission's Report and other information about the Review of Succession Law project can be found on the Commission's website:

New Projects

The Minister responsible for Te Aka Matua o te Ture | Law Commission, Hon Kris Faafoi, has referred two new projects to the Commission: a review of the role of tikanga and te ao Māori concepts in law, and a review of the legislative settings for preventive detention.

Commissioner Hon Justice Whata has commenced initial scoping work for the review of the role of tikanga. The Commission will commence work on the preventive detention project in early 2022.

Project updates

He Arotake i te Ture mō ngā Huarahi Whakatau a ngā Pakeke | Review of Adult Decision-making Capacity Law

October we published Terms of Reference (TORs) setting out the scope for this recently-commenced project, which will review how issues relating to adult decision-making capacity shoud be regulated in New Zealand. We are currently focused on research and engagement planning, and intend to undertake a public consultation process in the second half of 2022. For more information, please visit our project website: Here you can read the TORs, which are available in a variety of accessible formats. You can also subscribe for updates on the project, including opportunities to be involved.

Ko ngā Hunga Take Whaipānga me ngā Pūtea Tautiringa | Class Actions and Litigation Funding

In September we published a Supplementary Issues Paper seeking feedback on detailed aspects of a class actions regime. This included some draft legislative provisions on key topics such as certification and settlement of a class action. We held four policy workshops to discuss the Paper, which were well attended. We are now considering the feedback and submissions we received on the Paper. Our final report will be delivered to the Minister in May 2022.

Te Kōpū Whāngai: He Arotake | Review of Surrogacy

Submissions on Te Kōpū Whāngai: He Arotake | Review of Surrogacy Issues Paper closed in early October. We received over 200 submissions from individuals, academics and organisations interested in reform of surrogacy law. Since then, we have been working on analysing submitters' views and drafting final recommendations for reform. We expect to deliver a final report to the minister in the first half of 2022.