An Introduction to New Zealand Law & Sources of Legal Information

By Margaret Greville

Published August 2005

Margaret Greville is the Law Librarian at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. She has a MA (Hons) and LLB from the University of Auckland (NZ). She has been a law librarian for over 30 years, in law firms (large and small), in two academic law libraries, and in a courts library – all in New Zealand and Australia. Most of that time has been spent in academe.  She has championed the teaching of legal research skills to law students, and has also taught legal practitioners and non-law librarians.  She was instrumental in promoting the creation of a law librarianship module in a New Zealand Library School, and has participated in teaching it. 

She is the principal author of Legal Research and Writing in New Zealand, 2d ed, by Margaret Greville, Scott Davidson and Richard Scragg, Wellington NZ, LexisNexis (NZ) 2004. 

She has been an active member of the NZLLG for the last 30 years.  She has written and spoken at conferences & seminars, most recently at the Joint Study Institute (JSI, Sydney, 2004) and at the New Zealand Law Librarians’ Symposium, Auckland, 2004.

Update to an article previously published on, on September 2, 2002


Read the Update!


New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy. The Crown or monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, but for most purposes, she is represented in New Zealand by a Governor General. The role is largely ceremonial, but there are occasions when the gubernatorial role carries with it quite wide-ranging powers in certain situations, such as when a government loses a confidence vote in respect of appropriation and supply.

New Zealand has a responsible and representative government. Until 1996 the government was elected by a ‘first past the post’ system – ie, whichever party gained the largest number of seats in a general election was invited to form the government for the next three years (see 1996 was New Zealand’s first election under the new MMP (Mixed Member Proportional Representational) system. The term of government remains at three years.

An exception to the ‘pure’ form of this type of government is the cluster of seats reserved for voters who are on the Maori electoral roll. The number of seats set aside for those who identify themselves as Maori voters is adjusted from time to time in the same way as for the general roll to reflect the numbers on it. Citizens of Maori descent can choose whether to be on the Maori or General roll.

It operates as a unitary state, and not as a federal system like Australia or Canada. It is unicameral, that is, there exists in our Parliament only a House of Representatives, with no Upper House.

It does not have a written constitution, in the sense of a single entrenched legislative instrument spelling out the powers of the various arms of government.

It does have a number of constitutional documents which together spell out some of the rights of citizens, while other civil rights are safeguarded by the operation of common law. The New Zealand politics source book, 2d ed by Stephen Levine with Paul Harris, 1999 offers in its table of contents a very clear outline of New Zealand’s constitutional documents.

The Court System

In the New Zealand system, appeals no longer (since 2003) lie to the Privy Council. The new Supreme Court is now New Zealand’s highest Court, established by the Supreme Court Act 2003.

Below it sits the Court of Appeal. Next down in the hierarchy is the High Court of New Zealand, with seats in main centres throughout the country. Finally in this general court system is the District Court, usually the court of first instance for most matters, and these courts are to be found in most towns and cities in New Zealand. The respective jurisdictions of the High Court and the Court of Appeal are spelt out in the Judicature Act 1908, last reprinted in 1988 (and very heavily amended since that date). The jurisdiction of the District Court is enacted in the District Courts Act 1947, last reprinted in 1992.

In addition to these courts of general jurisdiction, there are also a number of courts of special jurisdiction, such as the Maori Land Court, the Maori Appellate Court, the Environment Court, the Family Court, and the Youth Court. The two latter are Divisions of the District Court. The Judicature Act also provides for the creation of a Commercial List in High Court Centres, and the first of these was established in Auckland.

In addition to the various courts, there is quite a large number of Administrative Tribunals that exercise judicial power, while there is also a bewildering array of Authorities, Commissions, Ombudsmen, and Boards that exercise statutory decision-making powers. A truly excellent resource for those who wish to unravel this knotty tangle is the directory provided by the University of Waikato’s Law Library. This web site also contains details of where decisions of the various decision-making bodies may be obtained.

Origins of New Zealand Law

The whole body of existing English law, both legislation and common law, as well as the English constitutional conventions, was received into New Zealand on 14 January 1840. For some time, the Parliament at Westminster legislated for New Zealand, but from 1865, New Zealand received limited legislative powers of its own. In 1931 the United Kingdom Parliament passed the Statute of Westminster, to facilitate a move towards independence for the Dominions (former colonies) by removing the limitations on their legislative powers. In 1947 New Zealand passed the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act and accepted full responsibility for its own destiny.

Until very recently, New Zealand continued to look to the mother Parliament at Westminster for sources of its own legislation, and to the superior English courts for precedents in its own courts. House of Lords and (English) Court of Appeal decisions are still highly persuasive, and English decisions are still often cited in New Zealand courts. However, especially in the last 20 years, New Zealand has looked further afield for legislative models – particularly in the more commercially flavoured subject areas. For example, our Commerce Act and Fair Trading Act are modelled directly upon the Australian Trade Practices Act, which in turn looks to U.S. models in the American antitrust laws. Our latest Companies Act is based upon a Canadian model, as is our Consumer Guarantees Act. On the whole, we now look more often to North America than to the United Kingdom for sources of legislation.

New Zealand courts will consider authorities from a variety of other common law jurisdictions, especially Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the USA. As a consequence, New Zealand lawyers are accustomed to researching the law across a number of jurisdictions.

There is an inexorable drive towards the web in most areas of New Zealand legal information, and strong competition between publishers in this matter. Unfortunately, this does not always lead to free sources of primary or secondary legal information. There is no ‘magic bullet’ – no single web site where you can hope to pick up New Zealand legal information for free. There is some free information available, but on the whole, New Zealand has embraced the ‘user pays’ philosophy perhaps a little too enthusiastically in this respect.


This is not an easy matter to unravel. There is a helpful introduction on the Ministry of Justice web site for multilateral treaties to which NZ is signatory.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade conducts the Government’s business with foreign governments and international organisations, but its web site is opaque. If you start from the home page and choose “Foreign and Trade Policy” then choose the link to “Legal Division” under “International Relations”, you get to where you will find as much as there presently is presently available online in the public arena on this curiously arcane subject.

New Zealand is signatory to a large number of multinational treaties. These are to be found in the New Zealand Treaty Series, published as part of the Appendix to the Journal of the House of Representatives and also as a separate series by Legislation Direct. Treaties and Conventions are binding on New Zealand courts when ratified and legislated into domestic statutes, but they may also be persuasive as a matter of statutory interpretation even when not ratified: in construing a piece of legislation in the event of ambiguity, the court will deem that Parliament would not have chosen to legislate contrary to the spirit of an international treaty. There is currently no online source of the New Zealand Treaty Series. There is also no easy access to the large number of bilateral treaties to which New Zealand is signatory. There is a good paper index to New Zealand treaties published in 1996 that indexes bilateral as well as multinational treaties: New Zealand Consolidate Treaty List (Wellington: NZ. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 1996, also issued as A.263 in the series, Appendix to the Journal of the House of Representatives)


Paper copy

At present, the only official version of the New Zealand statutes is the paper version, although this is likely to change in the not-too-distant future: see below, under General Legal Information, and under Legislation.

Statutes are passed by the House of Representatives after passing through three Readings and then being assented to by the Governor General (though this last requirement is largely a matter of form). Acts are officially published by in pamphlet form, while bound volumes of statutes containing all the Acts passed in that year are published annually. Statutes are only reprinted occasionally, when the number of amending Acts becomes so large that reading a principal Act along with all its amendments becomes unwieldy. The statute books are kept up to date by a homespun system of manual annotation involving the physical crossing out of repealed sections and insertion of slips of paper to indicate amendments. This ritual is carried out twice a year, but only for those sets of statutes maintained in New Zealand. Brookers, a legal publisher, carries out the process. In other jurisdictions, and also in many New Zealand law libraries, an alternative system is available, provided by a rival publisher, LexisNexis (NZ). This consists of a series of loose-leaf volumes containing both statutory and case annotations kept up to date as new amendments are passed.

Official public online legislation

Progress on this front since the last time this article was published (three years ago) will have left nail-biters with raw stumps for fingers. In the meantime, free access to a compiled version of current Acts, Bills and Regulations has been made available. Curious readers with time on their hands can study the history of New Zealand’s attempts to create a free online public access database of official compiled legislation.

Case law

Paper copy

The ‘official’ series of law reports in New Zealand is the New Zealand Law Reports 1883 -, published by LexisNexis (New Zealand). These are also available by subscription in digital form: on CD ROM (from 1958 -); on LEXIS; or LexisNexis (NZ) Online.

There are also about 20 other series of subject law reports. For an excellent and up to date historical survey of New Zealand law reports, see: Edwards, Alan, ‘New Zealand Law Reports: A Bibliographic Survey’ (2002) 10 Australian Law Librarian 37.

There is also a flourishing trade in unreported decisions. These consist of the transcripts of decisions as they are issued by the various courts and tribunals, and before they are reported (although by far the majority of New Zealand court decisions are not reported at all). These are available from the originating court or tribunal, or from a number of agencies, such as Judgments Unlimited in Wellington. Selections of unreported decisions – mainly from the superior courts – are digested in The Capital Letter and Butterworths Current Law, published weekly and fortnightly respectively. Unreported decisions are also digested and subsequently noted up on the databases LINX and Briefcase (see below).

Electronic case law

Most of the report series that are still current are available electronically as well as in hard copy, and just a few are available only electronically. They are mostly offered on the web sites of the two remaining major legal publishers in New Zealand, Brookers and LexisNexis (NZ). The digital versions have the advantage not only of good search facilities, but also being able to be searched in tandem with other databases on the same platform, and having hypertext links to related material.

There are also two databases dating from around 1985 that provide bibliographic details of unreported decisions of the superior courts. These are LINX and Briefcase. Although both started life as independent entities, in the last two years both have been further developed by the rivals Brookers (who have bought Briefcase) and LexisNexis (NZ) (who have a joint venture arrangement with the LINX committee). Both now offer a large number of full text decisions attached to the original bibliographic records as pdf files, and both have links to cited legislative sections. LINXPlus is an enhanced version of LINX that also allows hypertext linking to full text reported versions of cases on Lexis Nexis Butterworths Online. Each may be searched (on the two respective web sites) simultaneously with other selected case law databases.

Free public access to judicial decisions

For general open access to the decisions of the courts there has been little progress since the 1st incarnation of this overview more than 5 years ago. Although at that time it seemed that we were set fair to be enjoying online access to all judicial decisions in the very near future, it now seems that the judges are adopting a much more conservative approach to the free dissemination of all cases.

It seems that there may still be a measure of judicial unease at the prospect of unmediated public access to all judicial decisions. For one judge’s view, see Harvey, D, ‘Public Access to Legislative information and Judicial Decisions in New Zealand: Progress and Process’, (2002) 10 Australian Law Librarian, 48.

However, NZLII, a fledgling New Zealand source of legal information on the WORLDLII platform, is now beginning to draw together some of the strands of the decisions of judicial bodies that are variously distributed for free public access. The individual web pages for the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal offer collections of their decisions, but the sticking point seems to be a High Court level and below. See below under General Legal information.


The standard text on the New Zealand Parliament is Parliamentary practice in New Zealand, 2d ed, by David McGee, Wellington, NZ, GP Publications, 1994. Some of the content relating to the legislative process is now out of date because of the advent of MMP and a change to Standing Orders, but it remains authoritative otherwise. The parliamentary web site is a good source of information about Parliament, and on its day-to-day activities.

The Parliamentary Bulletin is an invaluable publication, issuing weekly while Parliament is sitting, that tracks the progress of bills through the House, activities of Select Committees, and other parliamentary information.


Central government

Information about the New Zealand government can be found in three main sources:

  • The New Zealand official yearbook. This was last published in print in 2004.
  • Directory of official information, published biennially by the New Zealand Ministry of Justice. This is so far only available in paper. It was last produced in 2001.
  • The New Zealand Government’s web pages: Navigation around these pages is generally straightforward, except that information about government departments is rather obscurely tucked away under a button labelled ‘agency contacts’.

Local government

Local government websites have proliferated over the last two years, and the NZ government website offers a good access point for all of them, as well as general interest on this subject.

See below, under Legal Profession, and Legal Ethics.

The three main legal publishers in the New Zealand market are:

  • LexisNexis (NZ) (formerly Butterworths). This is probably New Zealand’s premiere legal publisher, responsible as it is for producing the authorised law report series (the New Zealand Law Reports) and publisher of the only New Zealand legal encyclopaedia. They have a joint venture arrangement with the three largest District Law Societies, who produce LINX, to host LINX on the LexisNexis platform, where as LINXPlus it connects with a range of LN primary and secondary publications. All of LN’s looseleaf and serialised publications are available both in paper and online, while many of the country’s standard monographs are published by LexisNexis.
  • Thomson Brookers (formerly Brookers) is another major publisher, relatively recently acquired by the global Thomson group. They are a major player in the market for legal texts, and are also responsible for the nations currently preferred system of statutory annotation. Like LexisNexis, all their serialised publications, including looseleaf services, are available on an online platform. It is the Brookers version of electronic statutes that has been made available free to the public while the Parliamentary Counsel Office completes its project to produce a free online official statute database.
  • CCH (NZ) is the third major player, operating essentially in the commercial legal arena. They publish both in paper and online in the same way as LN and Brookers, specialising in taxation, company, commercial, and employment law.
  • The Oxford University Press operates in Australia, Singapore, New Zealand and the Pacific from a single base. It is still the publisher of choice for a number of New Zealand legal writers.

Online sources

A number of web sites which offer online current awareness services either of a general nature or of particular interest to lawyers can be located among the websites listed here. Most of them are free.

Many New Zealand law firms offer newsletters free to members of the public, and also publish them on their web sites. This is a very good source of information about very recent happenings on the New Zealand legal scene. See above, and use Tarantula for sources of these.

Legal publishers offer various online &/or email current awareness services to clients on subscription. For example, Brookers offers regular (often daily) newsletters on subjects such as: Family Law, Human Rights, Employment, Land Law, Business Law, and an Accounting, Corporate and Tax Alert.

Paper sources

A number of useful current awareness services are published in New Zealand:

Case law

Two publications offer regular summaries of recent unreported cases. These are: The capital letter: a weekly review of administration, legislation, and law edited by Jack Hodder. Wellington, Fourth Estate Periodicals, 1987 – (published weekly); Butterworths current law. Wellington, Butterworths, 1979 – (published fortnightly). There are also many topical newsletter style publications that combine brief case notes with slightly more in-depth articles; examples are: Butterworths Employment Law Bulletin; New Zealand Intellectual Property Journal; Feminist Law Bulletin, Maori Law Review.


The Parliamentary Bulletin. Wellington, Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives, 1986 – This issues weekly when Parliament is in session. It is a good tool for keeping up to date with the passage of legislation through the House.

Law firm newsletters

New Zealand law firms produce newsletters which are often an excellent first source of brief commentary on New Zealand legal happenings. See immediately above under Online sources, and under the Legal profession for URLs.

Business & politics

Trans Tasman is a privately circulated weekly popular with business and corporate lawyers interested in public affairs on both sides of the Tasman.

A number of these have been noted in other parts of this article, but it may be helpful to draw some basic works together in one place. Many are in print only. Characteristically, many are disappointingly limited by failing to be comprehensive in their cover of New Zealand legal information published by competitors.

  • Spiller, P, Butterworths New Zealand Law Dictionary (Wellington: Butterworths, 2001)
  • New Zealand Legal Words and Phrases (Wellington: Butterworths, 1995) and 2001 update (also available via Butterworths Online)
  • Australian and New Zealand Citator to UK Reports (Chatswood, N.S.W.: Butterworths, 1993-)
  • The Abridgement of New Zealand Case Law (Wellington: Butterworths, 1963-) this is limited in its application by digesting only cases reported in the New Zealand Law Reports.
  • Fong, C. and Edwards, A., Australian and New Zealand Legal Abbreviations (Sydney: Australian Law Librarians Group NSW Division, 1995). A new edition of this extremely useful work is planned for publication later this year.
  • The Laws of New Zealand (Wellington: Butterworths, 1993-). This legal encyclopaedia is available in looseleaf, CD, and online formats. In its online incarnation links between it, relevant legislation and case law, and comparable Australian commentary in Halsbury’s Laws of Australia are useful features.
  • Index to New Zealand Legal Writing and Cases edited by K. A. Palmer (Auckland: Legal Research Foundation, 1977 – 1985)
  • Butterworths Annotations of New Zealand Statutes (Wellington: Butterworths, 1929-). This work, especially the earlier volumes, is invaluable when grappling with the need to trace current legislation back to earlier sources. It provides both statutory and case annotations to New Zealand statutes from the times when we first began legislating and litigating up the present.

Students at all five law schools in New Zealand are taught legal research skills as part of the curriculum. In all five, this is mandatory, but stands outside the LLB syllabus. In addition, the larger law firms run comprehensive training programmes of instruction for incoming graduates, to acclimatise them to the particular resources and requirements of that firm. Law students and young lawyers in New Zealand are usually encouraged to begin by looking first at commentary, especially a standard current textbook on the subject, or the relevant section in a legal encyclopaedia, before proceeding to primary sources.

There are now two books on legal research in New Zealand: Greville, M, Davidson, J.S., and Scragg, R., Legal Research and Writing in New Zealand, 2d ed (Wellington: Butterworths, 2004); and Wainwright, B., E-research for New Zealand Lawyers (Wellington: Butterworths, 2001)

Researching particular subjects in New Zealand law: paper & electronic

This is intended as no more than a starting point for someone in a hurry. It is no substitute for a methodical search in a law library catalogue, a good hunt through the relevant legislation and cases, and time spent searching in legal journal indexes such as LINXPlus, AGIS, LegalTrac etc.

Each subject is approached through governing legislation (and the list in each case will not be exhaustive), case law specific to that subject (and excluding generic series such as the New Zealand Law Reports), secondary materials such as chapters in Laws of New Zealand and standard texts, journals specific to the subject, and online resources, which includes free and subscription materials.

Accident Compensation

See: Personal Injury


(see also: Civil Procedure, and Legal Profession below)


  • Introduction to advocacy, by Editor-in-chief J. Bruce Robertson.  Wellington: New Zealand Law Society, 2000.
  • Courtroom procedure in New Zealand: a practitioner’s survival kit, 2nd ed by James O’Donovan, Auckland: CCH, 2000.
  • Mauet’s Fundamentals of Trial Techniques: New Zealand edition, editor in chief Thomas Eichelbaum. Auckland, OUP, 1989

Banking Law


The main piece of legislation here is the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Act 1989, under which banks are registered. Also significant are:

  • Bills of exchange Act 1908
  • Cheques Act 1960
  • Consumer Guarantees Act 1993
  • Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003
  • Decimal Currency Act 1964
  • Financial Transactions Reporting Act 1996
  • Insolvency Act 1967
  • Privacy Act 1993


  • The Laws of New Zealand chapter on Banking (paper, CD, online by subscription)
  • The Encyclopaedia of Banking Law, ed P. J. Cresswell et al. London, Butterworths, 1982 –
  • Tyree’s Banking Law in New Zealand, 2d ed, by Alan L. Tyree. Wellington, LexisNexis Butterworths, 2003
  • Banking Law Update, presented by Simon McArley and Sarah Mehrtens. Wellington, New Zealand Law Society, 2003
  • Dimensions in Banking and Foreign Exchange Law, edited by John Prebble. Wellington, Butterworths, 1992
  • Banking and Finance Practice and Procedure. Wellington, Brookers, 2002 –


  • Journal of Banking Law and Practice. North Ryde, NSW, LBC, 1990 –
  • Office of the Banking Ombudsman Newsletter. Wellington, The Office, 1996 –
  • Banking Law Update. London, Butterworths, 2000 – (‘part of the Encyclopaedia of Banking Law’)
  • Case Note Compendium. Wellington, Office of the Banking Ombudsman, 1999 –

Online Resources

The web pages of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand provide a rich source of information about the banking environment and monetary policy in New Zealand as well as the narrower topic of banking supervision. You can also register for the Reserve Bank Email Service to get the latest news on what the Reserve Bank is doing, right when it does it, hot off the press, for free. There is also an archive of the Reserve Bank Bulletin back to 1980 on the site.

There is a Banking Ombudsman service offering free and independent assistance for people to sort out their unresolved problems with participating banks. The participating banks are all listed on the web site, as are the services offered. You can access the Case Notes and Newsletter via this web site. There are also online forms for complaints and requests for information.

The trading and savings banks also maintain web pages:

Bankruptcy and Insolvency

See also: Companies and Securities


The governing legislation for personal insolvency is the Insolvency Act 1967, while the Receiverships Act 1993 governs the receivership of companies. There are a number of sections of the Companies Act 1993 that have significant effect in this area as well. Also significant are:

  • Administration Act 1952
  • Corporations (Investigation and Management Act) 1989
  • Various Acts govern the insolvency administration of other legal entities (see Insolvency in the Laws of New Zealand)


  • The Laws of New Zealand; Insolvency (paper, CD, online by subscription)
  • Spratt & McKenzie’s Law of Insolvency, 2d ed by F.C. Spratt & P. D. McKenzie. Wellington, Butterworths, 1972 (kept up to date by cumulative supplements).
  • Brookers Insolvency Law, by Anthony Gove. Wellington, Brookers, 1996 – (looseleaf, CD, or online by subscription)
  • Creditors’ Remedies, presented by Fleur Baker and Ralph Simpson, Wellington, New Zealand Law Society, 2001


  • Insolvency Quarterly, Wellington, NZ Insolvency and Trustee service, 1999 –
  • Tolley’s Insolvency Law & Practice, London, Butterworths Tolley, 1991 –

Online resources

The New Zealand Insolvency and Trustee Service website carries a lot of useful information on this subject in its Information Library, and offers access to the monthly Business Update newsletter. You can subscribe to this online and receive each issue by email. The website also carries a database of information on insolvency matters, including banned directors and managers, and failed companies. Creditors are now able to file claims online.

Changes to the insolvency regime are in the wind (as you might surmise from the age of the legislation and the standard text on the subject, see above), and there is presently a draft Insolvency Law Reform Bill and a discussion document on the MED web site, along with a growing collection of other publications and press and public statements on the progress of shaping the draft Bill.

This site also offers information about bankruptcy and company liquidation, both on this site (under Company Liquidation) and through its gateway to the resources on the Companies Office site.

There has also been an influential Law Commission Report on this matter, and there is a link to this from the media statement on the MED web site – or see the Commission’s own web pages for this report.

Business and Commercial Law


There is a raft of legislation in this broad subject area. A collection of the basic legislation may be found in the New Zealand Business Law Guide, edited by G. W. Hinde et al, Auckland, CCH, 1985 – (looseleaf). Annual or occasional compilations are also supplied in New Zealand Contract and Commercial Legislation, 21st ed, 2005 and in the student edition, Introduction to New Zealand Commercial Legislation (2005) (both also out of the CCH stable, and in Butterworths Commercial Legislation (2003).

Significant Acts include, i.a.:

Bills of Exchange Act 1908 Carriage of Goods Act 1979
Cheques Act 1960 Commerce Act 1986
Consumer Guarantees Act 1993 Contractual Mistakes Act 1977
Contractual Remedies Act 1979 Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003
Credit (Repossession) Act 1997 Fair Trading Act 1986
Hire Purchase Act 1971 Illegal Contracts Act 1970
Insolvency Act 1967 Personal Property Securities Act 1999
Sale of Goods Act 1908 Sale of Goods (UN Convention) Act 1994

Case Law

  • Brookers Commercial Cases c.1985 –
  • E-Commerce Law Cases 1999 –
  • New Zealand Business Law Cases c.1988 –
  • New Zealand Commerce Commission Decisions 1997 –
  • Trade and Competition Law Reports 1978 –


There is no single chapter of the Laws of New Zealand covering this area; rather a number of separate chapters, for example: Consumer Credit and Hire Purchase, Consumer Protection, Creditors Remedies, and Sale of Goods.

  • Commercial Law in New Zealand, by Andrew Borrowdale et al (Susan Glazebrook, consultant). Wellington, LexisNexis, 2004 – (looseleaf and online)
  • Butterworths Introduction to Commercial, student ed, by C. Hawes et al. Wellington, LexisNexis, 2005.
  • Understanding Commercial Law, Rev. 5th ed, by P. Gerbic and M. Lawrence. Wellington, LexisNexis, 2003
  • Gault on Commercial Law, by M. Berry, T. Housden & T.M. Gault. Wellington, Brookers, 1994 -. (looseleaf, CD, online by subscription)
  • The New Zealand Business Law Guide, by G.W. Hinde. Auckland, CCH, 1985 – (looseleaf)
  • Essays in Commercial Law, ed. A. Borrowdale and D. Rowe, Christchurch, Centre for Corporate and Commercial Law, 1991
  • Commercial Law essays: a New Zealand Collection, ed. D. Rowe and C. Hawes, Christchurch, Centre for Corporate and Commercial Law, 2003


  • New Zealand Business Law Quarterly, Wellington, Brookers, 1995 – (also as part of Brookers electronic Commercial Library as Commercial Views)
  • Business Update, monthly newsletter of the Ministry of Economic Development online
  • Commercial eXchange, Newsletter of the Centre for Commercial and Corporate Law, Faculty of Law, University of Canterbury, 2001 –
  • Australian Business Law Review, Sydney, LBC, 1973 –
  • Commercial Law Quarterly, Sydney, Commercial Law Assoc. (Aust), 1987 –
  • Canadian Business Law Journal, Agincourt, Ont., Canada Law Book, 1975 –

Online resources

The former Ministry of Commerce has been replaced by the Ministry of Economic Development. This is a very densely cross-referenced web site, with links to a huge number of useful sources on various aspects of the business environment. There is access to a large number of publications and public statements on business law and trade and discussion and publications on business policy and law. The Ministry also offers a free email newsletter, the Business Update.

The Motor Vehicle Securities Register has been incorporated within the Personal Property Securities Register. Both are maintained by the MED.

The Treasury website is a good source of up to date information about the current national economic climate and its management by government.

Brookers Commercial Library – This is a subscription based electronic library, comprising:

  • Banking and Finance Practice and Procedure,
  • Commercial Cases,
  • Commercial Views,
  • New Zealand Business Law Quarterly
  • Franchising Practice and Procedure,
  • Gault on Commercial Law,
  • Information Technology Contracts Practice and Procedure,
  • Mergers, Acquisitions, and Takeovers Practice and Procedure,
  • Patents Practice and Procedure
  • Trade Marks Practice and Procedure

These may be subscribed to as separate products, or in any combination. There are hypertext links within and between the products, and it is possible to search across a selection of any of them and/or any other Brookers products. See, “Go to Libraries”.

CCH also has its Business Law Library available online for subscribers. This comprises:

  • Bulletins,
  • Business Law Guide (corresponding to the looseleaf text), and
  • Business Law Cases (also corresponding to the looseleaf equivalent, in the Business Law Guide.)

LexisNexisNZ has its Commercial Law in New Zealand available online.

Civil Procedure


The statute establishing the jurisdiction of the High Court is the Judicature Act 1908, and this also provides for the making of the rules of court. Originally, these appeared as a schedule to the Judicature Act (the present rules were originally contained in a schedule to the Judicature Amendment Act (No.2) 1985), but now the Judicature Act provides for a Rules Committee with powers to make and amend rules to govern the practice and procedure of the High Court. These are the High Court Rules.

The District Courts Act 1947 provides for the making of the District Court Rules, which are now amended by the same Rules Committee that is responsible for the High Court Rules, thus maintaining reasonable consistency between the two sets of rules.

The Supreme Court Act 2003 establishes the new Supreme Court and ends appeals to Her Majesty in Council, and amends the Judicature Act accordingly.

Case Law

  • Procedure Reports of New Zealand 1984 –
  • New Zealand Procedural Cases 1986 – 1999


There are 3 chapters of the Laws of New Zealand on this subject: Civil Procedure: District Courts; Civil Procedure: High Court; Civil Procedure: Supreme Court and Court of Appeal.

  • Principles of Civil Procedure, 2d ed, by Andrew Beck. Wellington, Brookers, 2001.
  • Civil Procedure Update, presented by R. Chambers, J et al. Wellington, New Zealand Law Society, 2004.
  • Update on District Courts Rules and Procedures, presented by J. Doogue and D. Laurenson. Wellington, New Zealand Law Society, 2001.
  • Appearing for the Plaintiff, by J. L. Williams. Wellington, Butterworths, 2000
  • District Courts Practice: Civil Jurisdiction, by B. H. Blackwood et al. Wellington, Butterworths, 1987 – (looseleaf, CD, online by subscription)
  • District Courts Procedure, by J. W. Hansen et al. Wellington, Brookers, 1995 – (looseleaf, CD, online by subscription)
  • McGechan on Procedure, by R. A. McGechan. Wellington, Brookers 1985 – (looseleaf, CD, online by subscription)
  • Sim’s Court Practice, editor in chief Sir Peter Quilliam. Wellington, Butterworths, 1994 – (looseleaf, CD, by subscription)

Online Resources

Brookers Practice and Procedure Series. This consists of over a dozen subject-based sets of documents on particular aspects of legal practice, available online by subscription, either separately, as a package, or separately but within a related subject library. For example, the Company P&P set is also available as part of the Company Library, along with commentary, legislation, and cases on that subject.

Brookers Civil Procedure Library, available online by subscription, contains Civil Litigation Law and Practice, District Courts Procedure, McGechan on Procedure, and the Procedure Reports of New Zealand.

What used to be Lexisnexis’s Civil Procedure and Practice library is now less evidently that because of the new distribution of products within LN’s new global platform. However, the District Courts Practice (Civil), and Sim’s Court Practice are both still available online by subscription.

The web pages of the Courts section of the Ministry of Justice contain information for legal professionals, including practice notes and guides.

The New Zealand Law Society offers a web page of Guidelines, Practice Notes, and Court notices for practitioners.

Company & Securities

New Zealand’s companies legislation is based on the Canadian model, so Canadian case law is relevant.


  • Companies Act 1993
  • Companies Act 1955 (although this Act has been repealed, much case law relevant to deciding matters under the 1993 Act was decided under the 1955 Act)
  • Corporations (Investigation and Management) Act 1989
  • Financial Reporting Act 1993
  • Securities Act 1978, and Securities Amendment Act 1986
  • Securities Markets Act 1988
  • Securities Transfer Act 1991

There is a collection of legislation relating to takeovers on the web site of the Takeovers Panel.

Case Law

  • New Zealand Company Law Cases 1981 – (paper and online, by subscription)
  • Brookers Company and Security Cases 1986 – (paper and online, by subscription)


The relevant chapters of the Laws of New Zealand are: Companies, and Shares and Securities.

  • Guidebook to New Zealand companies and securities law, 7th ed by Andrew Beck and Andrew Borrowdale, Auckland, CCH, 2002. 
  • Duties and Responsibilities of Directors and Company Secretaries in New Zealand, by Andrew Borrowdale. 3rd ed, Auckland, CCH, 2003
  • Company and Securities Law: Commentary and Materials, by R. B. Grantham and C. E. F. Rickett. Wellington, Brookers, 2002
  • Commercial Applications of Company Law in New Zealand, by G. Walker et al. Auckland, CCH, 2002
  • Anderson’s Company and Securities Law in New Zealand. Wellington, Brookers, 1991 – (looseleaf, CD, online by subscription)
  • Morison’s Company and Securities Law. Wellington, Butterworths, 1994 – (looseleaf, CD, online by subscription)
  • New Zealand Company Law and Practice, by A. Beck et al. Auckland, CCH, 1993 – (looseleaf, CD, online by subscription)
  • Securities Regulation in Australia and New Zealand, 2d ed by G. Walker et al. North Rude, NSW, LBC, 1998.
  • Securities Update, presented by L. Mason and C. Quinn. Wellington, New Zealand Law Society, 2004
  • Canada Corporations Law Reporter, Don Mills, Ontario, CCH Canadian, 1949 – (looseleaf)
  • Australian Corporation Law: Principles and Practice, Sydney, Butterworths, 1991 –


  • Butterworths Company and Securities Law Bulletin (NZ), 1994 –
  • Company and Securities Law Journal, (Aus) 1982 –
  • The Company Lawyer, (UK), 1980 –
  • Code Word: the Newsletter of the Takeovers Panel, Wellington, The Panel, 2001 –

Online Resources

The New Zealand Companies Office is a unit of the Ministry of Economic Development. Its web pages offer useful information on the companies regime, online compliance and registration facilities, and also the opportunity to register to receive a free Business Update Newsletter.

You can register a new company, reserve a company name, file certain company documents (including annual returns) and update director and company address information online. You can search the register for information on companies, other bodies including incorporated societies, and the banned director database.

For information on company registration around the world, see the international pages on the UK Companies House website.

On 30 May 2003 the New Zealand Stock Exchange underwent a rebranding exercise, including a renaming as the New Zealand Exchange. Its website is densely packed with investment information, including a very convenient index of listed companies, together with links to both to the latest prices via the stock code, and to the company’s own web pages, where financial information, annual reports, names of directors etc may be found. Earlier in the same month, the about-to-be renamed NZX announced its intention to list on the Main Board of the Exchange.

The New Zealand Futures and Options Exchange website has now been incorporated within the Sydney Futures Exchange website.

The Securities Commission of New Zealand is established under the Securities Act 1978, and its aim is to foster capital investment in New Zealand by strengthening confidence in New Zealand’s capital markets, both in New Zealand and overseas, by promoting: the efficiency, integrity, and cost-effective regulation of these markets. The Commission’s relationship to the New Zealand Stock Exchange is spelt out in a Memorandum of Understanding that may be viewed on its web pages. These are also a convenient source of the Commission’s reports, inquiries, and other publications, as well as Exemption Notices. There is a facility on the front page to register for email alerts to new information on this site.

The Takeovers Panel web site offers information about the takeovers regime in New Zealand, including determinations of the Panel, copies of public addresses, and an archive of Code Word, the newsletter of the Takeovers Panel.

What used to be Datex has merged with McEwen & Co Ltd to become the Investment Research Group (IRG), although the old name is retained in the URL. IRG offers subscription access to investment information relating to New Zealand and Australian companies. Although most in-depth information, analysis, and advice services are by subscription, there is still some useful free material available – including a handy clickable list of company websites.

Brookers Company and Securities Library (subscription) contains as separate infobases: Company Law, Securities Law, Insolvency Law, Company and Securities Cases, and Company Practice and Procedure.

LexisNexis’s global platform offers online access to Morison’s Company Law and Morison’s Securities Law by subscription. Each contains commentary and relevant legislation and precedents, while the Company and Securities Law Bulletin.

CCH (NZ) is a major publisher of company and commercial legal information, and its online Company library offers subscription access to commentary on law and practice, cases, and relevant legislation – all corresponding to its hard copy products from the CCH Library Online link.

Both Lexis and Westlaw contain large volumes of (mainly American) international company, securities, and general commercial information; both are accessible online by subscription or other payment options available from time to time from Lexisnexis Butterworths and Brookers.

Competition Law

(see also Consumer Law, below)

New Zealand competition law is based on the Australian Trade Practices legislation, which in turn is related to Canadian and U.S. models. Case law and commentary from all these jurisdictions is relevant.


  • The Commerce Act 1986 and the Fair Trading Act 1986

Law Reports

  • Trade and Competition Law Reports, Wellington, Brookers, 1988 –
  • Business Law Cases, Auckland, CCH, 1984 –
  • Australian Trade Practices Reports, North Ryde, NSW, CCH, 1978 –
  • C.M.L.R. Antitrust Law Reports, London, Sweet & Maxwell, 1991 –


The Laws of New Zealand contains a chapter on Competition.

  • Competition Law Update, presented by Miriam Dean and Tom Weston. Wellington, NZLS, 2001.
  • Competition Law and Policy in New Zealand, by Rex J. Ahdar. Sydney, LBC, 1991
  • Guidebook to New Zealand Competition Laws, 2d ed by Yvonne Van Roy. Auckland, CCH, 1991
  • Economics and Competition Law, presented by J. M. Mellsop and J. Palmer. Wellington, New Zealand Law Society, 2004.
  • Economic Essays on Australian and New Zealand Competition Law, by Maureen Brunt. The Hague, Kluwer, 2003
  • Competition Law at the Turn of the Century, by M. Berry and L. T. Evans. Wellington, Victoria University Press, for the New Zealand Institute for the study of Competition and Regulation, 2003


  • Competition and Consumer Law Journal, Sydney, Butterworths, 1993 –
  • Trade Practices Law Journal, North Ryde, NSW, LBC, 1993 –
  • Australian and New Zealand Trade Practices Law Bulletin, Darlinghurst, NSW, International Business Communications, 1990 –
  • Competition and Regulation Times, Wellington, NZ Institute for the Study of Competition and Regulation, 2000 –

Online Resources

The Commerce Commission is the New Zealand competition watch-dog. Its own statement about itself on its home page is: “We exist to bring about awareness and acceptance of, and compliance with, the Commerce and Fair Trading Acts, so that consumers and producers benefit from healthy competition.”

Consistent with the Commission’s educative function, there is a great deal of useful information about its work available through its web pages. There is an archive of the decisions of the Commission (acting in its judicial capacity) back to 1997, and a collection of the Commission’s published pamphlets and guidelines. Fair’s Fair was a publication carrying case notes and other commentary on the Commission’s decisions on the Fair Trading Act, and there is an archive of the issues of this newsletter that were published between 1997 and 2001, when the publication ceased. Likewise, Compliance, a newsletter explaining the Commission’s role in respect of ensuring compliance with legislation containing competition-related implications has now ceased publication, but an archive 1997 – 2001 is available online. The final issue focuses on compliance issues arising out of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act.

The New Zealand Institute for the Study of Competition and Regulation Inc (ISCR) publishes its research papers to its web pages, and the archive of the Competition and Regulation Times may also be found at this source.

Computers and the Law & CALR

(1) Computers and the Law

(see also: e-Commerce, below)

This is a very wide area of study indeed, embracing as it does intellectual property, privacy, data protection, e-government, e-commerce (see below), and computer contracts to name just a few sub-sets.


(to name but a couple that are relevant)

  • Electronic Transactions Act 2001
  • Telecommunications Act 2001

Law Reports

Because this subject now permeates every area of the law, cases will be found in almost any series of law reports or databases of unreported decisions.


This global subject has generated a sizeable literature in all its facets, mostly written in other jurisdictions. A search on any law library catalogue should turn up works on the particular aspect you are researching. Most material on paper relating directly to the New Zealand environment is in the form of seminars and articles, and a search on LINXPlus, LegalTrac, &/or AGIS will be a good way to search, once you have looked at a recent text on the subject.

  • Electronic Business and Technology Law, Wellington, Lexisnexis (also part of Lexisnexis Online’s IP – Media – Technology Library.)
  • selected issues, by Judge David Harvey. Wellington, Lexisnexis, 2003.


The following is a somewhat random and idiosyncratic selection. Not surprisingly, one of the seminal journals in this area is JILT (Journal of Information, Law and Technology), now published only online by the Law School of the University of Warwick.

  • Internet law Bulletin, Sydney, Lexisnexis, 1998 –
  • Computer and Telecommunications Law Review, London, Sweet & Maxwell, 1995 –
  • Journal of Law and Information Science, Hobart, Law School, University of Tasmania, 1981 –
  • International Journal of Law and Information Technology, Oxford, OUP, 1993 –
  • Rutgers Computer and Technology Law Journal, Newark, NJ, Rutgers University School of Law, 1981 –
  • Artificial Intelligence and Law, The Hague, Kluwer Law International, 1992 –

Online Resources

There is vast array of information available online in the international arena. The University of Canterbury Law Library web pages have captured links to some sites that present material and/or directories of material on computer-related legal matters – but this list is by no means exhaustive.

Domainz is a register for .nz domain names.

Electronic Business and Technology Law is available as a looseleaf work, but also forms part of the IP – Media – Technology Library within Lexisnexis Online.


There are plenty of books on this subject, often written by law librarians, from most jurisdictions. Characteristically, the subject is now treated simply as one aspect of an integrated approach to legal research, rather than a field in its own right, and so is usually covered in a general work on legal research within the jurisdiction under study.

  • E-Research for New Zealand Lawyers, by Bethli Wainwright. Wellington, Butterworths, 2001
  • selected issues, by Judge David Harvey. Wellington, Lexisnexis, 2003

Conflict of Laws


There are 2 chapters in the Laws of New Zealand on this subject: Conflict of Laws: Choice of Laws, and Conflict of Laws: Jurisdiction and Foreign Judgments.

For the most part, New Zealand lawyers rely on English texts in this area. Standard texts are:

  • Dicey and Morris on the Conflict of Laws, 13th ed by L. Collins et al, London, Sweet & Maxwell, 2000.
  • Cheshire and North’s Private International Law, 13th ed by Sir Peter North and J. C. Fawcett, 1999

The New Zealand Law Society runs occasional seminars on this subject; the most recent is:

  • Private International Law in New Zealand, presented by David Goddard and Helen McQueen. Wellington, NZLS, 2001.

For child abduction matters, see below under Family Law.

Consumer Law


(see also Competition Law, above)

Another area where there is a raft of legislation; for example:

  • Consumer Guarantees Act 1993
  • Sale of Goods Act 1908
  • Sale of Goods (United Nations Convention) Act 1994
  • Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003
  • Credit (Repossession) Act 1997
  • Fair Trading Act 1986
  • Layby Sales Act 1971, and
  • Unsolicited Goods and Services Act 1975.

Law Reports

  • Trade and Competition Law Reports, Wellington, Brookers, 1988 – (also available online as Commercial Cases)
  • Business Law Cases, Auckland, CCH, 1984 – (also available online)


Relevant chapters in the Laws of New Zealand are: Consumer Credit and Hire Purchase and Consumer Protection.

Some recent publications are:

  • Buyer Beware: How to avoid Cowboys, Dodgy Deals, and Shonky Guarantees, by Maria Konings. Wellington, Lexisnexis Butterworths, 2002.
  • Law of Marketing in New Zealand, 2d ed by J. Skinnon, J. R. McDermott et al. Wellington, Butterworths, 2001.
  • Consumer Law in New Zealand, by Kate Tokely. Wellington, Butterworths, 2000.

In addition, any basic text on commercial law will contain sections on the various aspects of consumer law.


  • Competition and Consumer Law Journal, Sydney, Butterworths, 1993 –

Online resources

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs is the administering body. Its well-stocked web pages offer advice to both consumers and traders to assist compliance. As well as being a valuable source of information, the site lists all available fact sheets and leaflets on consumer-related topics that may be either ordered or down-loaded off the web pages.

Consumer, a magazine devoted to consumer issues, has a web presence where, although most of the really meaty articles are available for a fee (often only after you have first been tempted half-way into a feature), there is a great deal of useful information available free of charge.

Gault on Commercial Law is part of the Brookers Commercial Law Library within Brookers Online. It offers annotated commercial legislation, including consumer law.

Contract Law


The common law of contract has been much modified in New Zealand by legislation, in particular:

  • Contracts Enforcement Act 1956,
  • Contracts (Privity) Act 1982,
  • Contractual Mistakes Act 1977,
  • Contractual Remedies Act 1979,
  • Frustrated Contracts Act 1944,
  • Illegal Contracts Act 1970, and
  • Minors’ Contracts Act 1969

Law Reports

Contract law issues arise in all aspects of legal life, and case law consequently may be found in any report series. Major cases will, of course, appear in the New Zealand Law Reports.


There is a Contracts chapter in the Laws of New Zealand.

Standard works are:

  • Law of Contract in New Zealand, 2d ed by J. Burrows, J. Finn, and S. Todd. Wellington, Lexisnexis Butterworths, 2002
  • An Introduction to the Law of Contract in New Zealand, 3d ed by M. Chetwin and S. Graw. Wellington, Brookers, 2001.

Common law aspects of the subject are also covered in such English classics as Chitty on Contracts, 29th ed by H. G. Beale et al. London, Sweet & Maxwell, 2004.

The New Zealand Law Society runs occasional seminars by way of ‘refreshers’ for practitioners; the most recent of these was:

  • Update on Contract, presented by John Burrows. Wellington, NZLS, 2003.


  • Journal of Contract Law, Sydney, Butterworths, 1988 – (also available on LEXIS, and via Lexisnexis Online.)

Courts and Tribunals

The New Zealand Government has recently legislated to disestablish the Privy Council as final court of appeal for New Zealand, and to create a new indigenous court, the Supreme Court of New Zealand. A further recent move is the reabsorption as from 1 October 2003, of the Department for Courts back into the Ministry of Justice; see documentation on the review that lies behind this move on the pages of Trevor Mallard, Minister for State Services.


  • Judicature Act 1908,
  • District Courts Act 1947
  • Supreme Court Act 2003


There is a chapter on Courts in the Laws of New Zealand.

Works on practice and procedure are noted under Civil Procedure (above) and Criminal Procedure (below).

There is a diagram showing the hierarchy of the courts on the home page for the Courts. Information on the history, business, constitutional status, and organisation of New Zealand courts may be found in any recent book on New Zealand legal history, public law, politics, or the legal system.


Courtside, Wellington, Dept for Courts, 1996 – (really an in-house magazine for employees, but contains some useful information about the workings of the Department, and changes in the wind.)

Online Resources

The Courts home page is a useful site for access to information about the work of the various parts of the courts system, with useful lists of and links to the courts and tribunals under its jurisdiction. It must be remembered that not all tribunals are administered by the Department for Courts; however, there are links to these from this web site. The site also carries information about the work of the courts, together with publications for litigants.

Another helpful source of information about courts, tribunals and the plethora of other decision making bodies with which we are blessed is the web site of the University of Waikato Law Library, where there is a directory of decisions of these bodies. Readers should be aware, however, that not all parts of this directory are always up to date. However, it does function as a comprehensive index to these bodies, and also offers information about where the determinations of the various bodies may be found.

Information about the Employment Court of New Zealand may be found on the Labour Department site. This is a very up to date site, with a lot of topical information. You can register to receive copies of the Employment Relations update as it is published. There is also a subscription service for delivery of cases through the Employment Institutions Information Centre. A list of recent cases (with no subject details) may be scanned without charge at You may order individual cases off the web site.

Transcripts of hearings of the Supreme Court (along with summaries of decisions, and finally the decisions themselves) are all available from the Supreme Court web pages.

The Maori Land Court has its own web site, where the Maori Land Court and the Maori Appellate Court decisions are available up to 2003, as is a link to the Waitangi Tribunal Reports via the Tribunal’s site.

The Youth Court website was named New Zealand site of the month in NetGuide magazine. It contains well arranged information about the Court, and about youth justice in general. There are also three clusters of data designed for young people, for families, and for victims.

There is a handy cluster of links to international courts from WORLDLII, and to the courts of individual jurisdictions here.

Criminal Law


New Zealand has codified its criminal law legislation, and the present Crimes Act is based on the Criminal Code Act of 1893, which in turn derives from the Draft Code of the English Criminal Code Bill Commission, published in 1879 – as do the codes of Canada and some Australian States. Case law from these jurisdictions is often significant in New Zealand courts. However, to some extent the code’s effects have been modified by the Bill of Rights Act 1990. The criminal aspect of drug abuse is covered in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975.

Crimes Act 1961 – (The Crimes Act is regularly reprinted in a consolidated form by LexisNexis NZ)

Law reports

  • Criminal Reports of New Zealand. Wellington, Brookers, 1983 –


There is a chapter on Criminal Law in the Laws of New Zealand.

There are 2 looseleaf services offering annotated versions of the Crimes Act; these are:

  • Adams on Criminal Law edited by B. J. Robertson. Wellington, Thomson Brookers, 1992 – (looseleaf, CD, online by subscription). A limp bound student edition of this is also published from time to time. The most recent edition of this is Adams on Criminal Law, 4th student edition, by J. Bruce Robertson. Wellington, Brookers, 2005.
  • Garrow and Turkington’s Criminal Law in New Zealand, edited by G. L. Turkington. Wellington, Lexisnexis, 1991 – (looseleaf, CD, online by subscription).

For a general text on the subject, see: Principles of Criminal Law by A. P. Simester, W. J. Brookbanks, and Gerald Orchard. Wellington, Brookers, 2002, and for drug abuse, see: Misuse of Drugs by Don Mathias. Wellington, Butterworths, 1987. This work is now updated only electronically, on CD or online as part of Thomson Brookers electronic Criminal Law Library.


At the time of writing there is no journal devoted to criminal law published in New Zealand. New Zealand criminal lawyers both use and publish in a variety of specialist journals from other jurisdictions, e.g.:

  • Criminal law Forum (International), Camden, NJ, Rutgers University school of Law, 1990 – (and on Lexis & Westlaw)
  • Journal of International Criminal Justice (International), Oxford, OUP, 2003 – (and on Lexis)
  • The Criminal Law Quarterly (Canada), Agincourt, Ont., Canada Law Book, 1958 –
  • The Criminal Law Review (UK), London, Sweet & Maxwell, 1954 – (and on Westlaw)
  • Criminal Law Journal (Australia), Sydney, LBC, 1977 –

This list is by no means definitive: others are available on Westlaw, Lexis, Heinonline and elsewhere.

Online Resources

Brookers Criminal Law Library, containing: Adams on Criminal Law, Brookers Law of Transportation, Criminal Reports of New Zealand, Misuse of Drugs, and Summary Proceedings (subscription).

Lexisnexis Butterworths Criminal Library, containing: Abbott & Thompson District Court Practice, Garrow & Turkington’s Criminal Law, and Hall’s Sentencing (subscription)

The New Zealand Police have a good set of web pages focusing on various aspects of police work, including an interesting web space devoted to “e-crime”.

Criminal Procedure


  • Crimes Act 1961
  • Summary Proceedings Act 1957
  • Summary Offences Act 1981
  • New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990

… and a host of other legislation relating to specific aspects of the subject (see the chapter in the Laws of New Zealand on Criminal Procedure for details).


There is a chapter in the Laws of New Zealand on Criminal Procedure.

  • District Courts Practice: Criminal Jurisdiction by Abbott & Thompson. Wellington, Lexisnexis Butterworths, 2002 – (looseleaf, CD, and online by subscription)
  • Brookers Summary Proceedings by S. G. Erber et al. Wellington, Brookers, 1994 – (looseleaf, CD, and online by subscription)

In the matter of sentencing, see: Hall’s Sentencing by G. G. Hall and Moira Thompson. Wellington, Lexisnexis, 1993 – (looseleaf, CD, and online by subscription), or the New Zealand Courts Sentencing Digest, published for the Department for Courts by Lexisnexis Status (looseleaf, CD, or online by subscription).

Online Resources

A lot of useful background information may be found on the Ministry of Justice web site.

There is information available for court users on these web pages.

See also Brookers and Lexis Criminal Law collections online (see above, under Criminal Law)



  • The Electronic Transactions Act 2002


Reflecting the reality that e-commerce is now a factor within so many branches of law and commerce, it is not surprising that there is no one chapter on this subject in the Laws of New Zealand; rather, it is discussed as it arises under each substantive subject in the Laws.

This is a subject enthusiastically embraced by writers in the legal and commercial fields. A crude search on Te Puna on ‘e-commerce’ retrieves so many hits that the search engine chastises one for searching so clumsily. A sample from New Zealand:

  • E-commerce Law by C. Nicoll and P. W. Jones. Auckland, CCH, 1999 – (looseleaf)
  • Electronic Business and Technology Law, Wellington, Lexisnexis, 2002 – (looseleaf & online)
  • A Guide to E-commerce Law in New Zealand by Michael Sage and the Simpson Grierson X-tech Group. Wellington, Thomson Brookers, 2002.
  • selected issues by Judge David Harvey. Wellington, Lexisnexis, 2003

Online Resources

The 2 key New Zealand web sites are the New Zealand Government’s E-Commerce Information pages (for policy and initiatives) (under the auspices of the Ministry of Economic Development), and the linked site (run out of New Zealand Trade and Enterprise)(for practical business information).

There is an interesting though scant overview (last updated 2001) of New Zealand law from an e-commerce perspective at, and links to other information about e-commerce generally on the Baker & McKenzie site.

  • Electronic Business and Technology Law is part of the IP – Media – Technology Library within Lexisnexis Online.

There are numerous foreign online resources on this subject; for getting started, see the University of Canterbury Law Library’s far from comprehensive selection for a guide.

Employment Law


Employment Relations Act 2000

There are also a number of other enactments that affect employment relations, including:

  • Arbitration Act 1996
  • Equal Pay Act 1972,
  • Minimum Wage Act 1983,
  • Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987,
  • State Sector Act 1988,
  • Trade Unions Act 1908,
  • Wages Protection Act 1983,
  • Remuneration Authority Act 1977,
  • Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992,
  • Holidays Act 2003,
  • Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation and Compensation act 2001, and
  • Human Rights Act 1993

This list is by no means comprehensive.

Law Reports

  • Employment Reports of New Zealand, Wellington, Brookers, 1992 –
  • New Zealand Employment Law Cases, Auckland, CCH, 1988 –


The Laws of New Zealand has a chapter entitled: Employment.

  • New Zealand Employment Law Library by R. Jamieson et al. Auckland, CCH, 1985 – (looseleaf, online by subscription)
  • Brookers Employment Law, by P. Bartlett et al. Wellington, Brookers, 2000 – (looseleaf, CD, online by subscription)
  • Mazengarb’s Employment Law, by G. Anderson, M. Thompson et al. Wellington, Butterworths, 1993 – (looseleaf, CD, online by subscription)
  • Lexisnexis Employment Law Guide, 7th ed. Wellington, Lexisnexis Butterworth, 2005 (limp bound student text based on Mazengarb)
  • New Zealand Employment Law Guide, by Richard Rudman. Auckland, CCH, 2005
  • Personal Grievances, byJohn Hughes et al. Wellington, LexisNexis, 1996 – (looseleaf and online by subscription)
  • Good Faith in Collective Bargaining, by Geoff Davenport and Judy Brown. Wellington, LexisNexis Butterworths, 2002
  • Workplace Accidents and Safety Handbook, by J. Miller et al. Wellington, Brookers, 1996 – (looseleaf and online by subscription)
  • Workplace Stress in New Zealand, by A. Scott-Howman and C. Walls. Wellington, Brookers, 2003.


  • The Employment Agreement, Wellington, Victoria Link, 2000 –
  • Butterworths Employment Law Bulletin, Wellington, Butterworths, 1993 –
  • New Zealand Journal of Employment Relations, Auckland, ER Publishing, 2004 –
  • ERA Info, Wellington, Employment Relations Service, 2000 – (also online, see below)

Online Resources

The following New Zealand web sites offer employment related information:

The Department of Labour web site contains information on a broad range of issues relating to employment, including immigration, community development, and research on work. The DOL offers a great service in making available email delivery of its numerous reports, newsletters, and updates from its subscription service, just a click away from the RHS of the front page.

It is a helpful source of current information about events and initiatives, together with access to publications and official reports and statistics. The DOL also hosts a valuable Employment Relations Service for both employers and employees as part of its suite of online services.

It has a densely packed home page offering links to all conceivable aspects of the employment relationship.

Among other things, the Employment Institutions Information Centre (accessible from the “Employment Law” link on the RHS of the ERS site) posts free weekly lists of recent cases determined in the Employment Court, Employment Tribunals, and the Employment Relations Authority. The lists are simply names of parties, counsel, and date and place of hearing, with no subject information whatever, so they are mainly of interest to lawyers who already know about them. There is provision to order the cases online, or to subscribe to the Employment Cases Summary for a fee. Free access to ERA Info is available quarterly, either online or on paper by free subscription.

The web pages of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions provide a handy hub with links to all New Zealand unions, and to related overseas organisations and news.

Business NZ is a “national organisation representing the interests of New Zealand’s business and employing sectors”. The site provides access to media releases, reports, articles, and submissions, with its own slant on the current employment regime.

Employment Today, a journal published by Thomson Brookers, has a site where it offers teasers by way of snippets from articles in recent issues.

Thomson Brookers also publishes Safeguard, a magazine devoted to health and safety issues in employment.

Thomson Brookers offers an integrated online Employment Library that includes:

Accident Compensation Cases, Employment Law, Employment Headnotes, Employment Reports of New Zealand, Personal Injury in New Zealand, Unreported Employment Cases, and the Workplace Safety and Accidents handbook.

Lexisnexis (NZ) also has a collection of employment-related material online containing:

Employment Law Bulletin, Mazengarb’s Employment Law, and Personal Grievances.

Access to the International Labour Organisation is available online.

Environment, Planning, & Resource Management Law


The major piece of legislation in this field is the Resource Management Act 1991 – but this is complemented by numerous other Acts on specific aspects of the environment. These will be spelt out in any standard text on the subject. Examples are:

  • Biosecurity Act 1993
  • Environment Act 1986
  • Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996

Law Reports

  • New Zealand Resource Management Appeals, Wellington, Butterworths, 1991 –


  • The Laws of New Zealand contains chapters on both the Environment and Resource Management.
  • Environmental and Resource Management Law, 2d ed by D. A. R. Williams et al. Wellington, Butterworths, 1997.
  • Resource Management, by Briar Gordon et al. Wellington, Brookers, 1991 – (looseleaf, CD, online by subscription).


  • Brookers Resource Management Gazette, Wellington, Brookers, 1994 –
  • Resource Management Bulletin, Wellington, LexisNexis, 2002 –
  • New Zealand Journal of Environmental Law, Auckland, Auckland University Faculty of Law, 1997 –
  • Conscience, Wellington, Dept of Conservation, 1993 – 2004
  • Environz, Wellington, Ministry for the Environment, 2002 –
  • Australasian Journal of Natural resources Law and Policy, Wollongong, Faculty of Law, University of Wollongong, 1994 –

Online Resources

There is a confusing plethora of departments and authorities and agencies that are charged with various clusters of responsibilities in this area. The following will give you some idea of the complexity of this environment, which is full of overlapping agencies.

The Department of Conservation is charged with the preservation of our natural resources, and information about its work may be found here. You can view its publications, register to receive an email newsletter, check out places to explore, or download the entire list of walkways. There is access on this site to the entire archive of DOC’s newsletter, ConScience.

The Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) is charged with the responsibility of controlling the introduction of new plants and animals including genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and new and existing hazardous substances into New Zealand. Its web pages spell out its responsibilities, provide definitions, current awareness, and offer details for compliance. Breaking news from ERMA is available through its RSS feeds.

The Biodiversity site is sponsored by the four main government agencies with statutory roles in managing and conserving New Zealand’s unique biodiversity. It provides information about the international perspective as well as the domestic one. The search engine retrieves documents on your field of interest – I tried ‘paua’ and retrieved seven hits, while ‘crayfish’ retrieved eight.

Renewable energy is always a hot topic in New Zealand, and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority site has plenty to say about this and a whole lot more.

Landcare Research is a Crown Research Institute that prides itself on being New Zealand’s foremost environmental research organisation. Its web pages offer access to a rich source of information and research about New Zealand’s natural environment.

Other relevant web sites include the Ministry for the Environment, which offers convenient access to relevant laws and treaties, and information about current events in this area.

The Ministry of Fisheries carries information about its marine biosecurity research programme and is also a very valuable resource of information about the impact of customary fishing in the New Zealand context.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment is a position that exists to review the government’s environmental policy. Most of its reports are available online.

The Environment Court site links from the Department for Courts, and its pages explain the workings of the court.

The Resource Management Law Association of New Zealand is an organisation of legal professionals working in this field.

The New Zealand Centre for Environmental Law at the University of Auckland publishes the New Zealand Journal of Environmental Law, and has an internet site. Access to abstracts of Journal archives is available from this site. As well as advertising the journal and its monograph series, the Centre also offers access to an impressive number of national and international environmental law resources.

There is a New Zealand Climate Change website offering information on this subject, including information about government policy and the Kyoto Protocol.

The University of Waikato Law Library has a useful collection of resources and links on its Environmental Law page.

The purpose of Quality Planning (QP) is to “promote best practice in the development of plans under New Zealand’s Resource Management Act (RMA)”. You can browse or search the database on areas of interest, including council contacts and guidance on the planning process.

RMA-NET is “the online source for legal decisions affecting New Zealand’s environment”. It offers the decisions on a subscription or pay-as-you-go basis. There is a generous concession for tertiary institutions that provide qualifications in law or resource management.

Finally, the Te Puna Web Directory is a very good source of links to resources in this subject area.

Brookers Online has two relevant electronic libraries: Resource Library, containing Gazette Cases Summaries, Resource Management, and Resource Management Cases and Materials; and the Fisheries Library, containing Fisheries Law, and Fisheries Cases


As this subject is taught, it is mostly confined to the study of trusts, wills, and the administration of estates, and these subjects have associated legislation. But the equitable jurisdiction is much wider than that, including equitable remedies and other judge-made law that finds its way into most legal subject areas.


  • The Wills Act 1837 (UK)
  • The Trustee Act 1956


There are chapters on Trusts and Wills in the Laws of New Zealand:

  • Neville’s Concise Law of Trusts, Wills and Administration in New Zealand, 9th ed by Nicky Richardson. Wellington, LexisNexis, 2004
  • Equity and Trusts in New Zealand, edited by Andrew Butler. Wellington, Brookers, 2003.
  • Law of Trusts, by Donald Breadon. Wellington, Butterworths, 2000 – (looseleaf, CD, and online by subscription)
  • Equity and Trusts, by Andrew Butler et al. Wellington, Brookers, 2003.
  • Wills and Succession by W. M. Patterson. Wellington, Butterworths, 1997 – (looseleaf, CD, and online by subscription)

English texts are relevant – see, for example:

  • Equity and the Law of Trusts, 9th ed by P. H. Pettit. London, Butterworths, 2001
  • Hanbury & Martin, Modern Equity, 16th ed by Jill Martin. London, Sweet & Maxwell, 2001
  • Snell’s Equity, 31st ed by John McGhee. London, Sweet & Maxwell, 2005.


  • Trust Law International, Haywards Heath, West Sussex Tottel, 2004 –



  • The Evidence Act 1908


There is a chapter on Evidence in the Laws of New Zealand.

  • Cross on Evidence, New Zealand ed, looseleaf by D. L. Mathieson. Wellington, Butterworths, 1996 – (looseleaf, CD, and online by subscription).
  • Cross on Evidence, 7th NZ ed by D. L. Mathieson. Wellington, Butterworths, 2001
  • Garrow & Casey’s Principles of the Law Of Evidence, 8th ed by M. E. Casey. Wellington, Butterworths, 1996.
  • Expert Evidence, by Ian Freckleton and Hugh Selby. North Ryde, NSW, LBC, 1993 – (looseleaf)


  • International Journal of Evidence and Proof, London, Blackstone, 1996 –

Online Resources

Cross on Evidence is available via Lexisnexis (NZ) Online by subscription

Family Law


In New Zealand, the branches of this province of the law are legion. A quick glance through the subjects covered in Trapski’s Family Law retrieves something like 20 different aspects of the topic, arranged in 6 bulky looseleaf volumes. The legislative framework is similarly vast. No attempt will be made here to list all these Acts. The reader is strongly advised to start by locating a copy of the latest edition of Family Law in New Zealand to gain an overview of the subject. This will provide some guidance to the legislation.

Some key Acts are:

  • Children, Young Persons and their Families Act, 1989
  • Status of Children Act 1969
  • Adoption Act 1955
  • Adoption (Intercountry) Act 1997
  • Child Support Act 1991
  • Civil Union Act 2004
  • Property (Relationships) Act 1976
  • Domestic Violence Act 1995
  • Families Commission Act 2003
  • Family Proceedings Act 1980
  • Family Protection Act 1955
  • Guardianship Act 1968
  • Marriage Act 1955.

Law Reports

  • New Zealand Family Law Reports, Wellington, LexisNexis (NZ), 1982 –
  • Family Reports of New Zealand, Wellington, Brookers, 1984 –


There is no single chapter in the Laws of New Zealand that covers family law. Rather, the divisions are covered separately, as: Children and Young Persons, Family Protection and Other Family Property Arrangements, Husband and Wife, Matrimonial and Relationship Property, and Parent and Child.

There are 2 standard looseleaf services on family law:

  • Trapski’s Family Law, by Pauline Tapp et al. Wellington, Brookers, 1991 – (looseleaf, CD, and online by subscription)
  • Family Law Service, by P. R. H. Webb et al. Wellington, Butterworths, 1994 – (looseleaf, CD, and online by subscription)

Other works include:

  • Family Law Policy in New Zealand, 2d ed by Mark Henaghan and Bill Atkin. Wellington, Lexisnexis Butterworths, 2002
  • Family Law in New Zealand, 11th ed by P. R. H. Webb et al. Wellington, Lexisnexis Butterworths, 2003
  • Fisher on Matrimonial Property, edited by R. L. Fisher et al. Wellington, Butterworths, 1996 – (looseleaf, CD, and online by subscription)
  • Relationship Property: Consolidated legislation and Analysis by Nicola Peart, Margaret Briggs, and Mark Henaghan. Wellington, Thomson Brookers, 2001
  • For Richer, For Poorer, by Maria Konings and Deborah Hollings. Auckland, CCH, 2001
  • Family Property Law and Policy, edited by Bill Atkin, Graeme Austin and Virginia Grainer. Wellington, New Zealand Institute of advanced Legal Studies, 1995


  • New Zealand Family Law Journal, Wellington, LexisNexis (NZ), 1993 –
  • Children, Wellington, Office of the Commissioner for Children, 1991 –
  • International Journal of Children’s Rights, The Hague, Kluwer Law International, 1993 –
  • International Family Law, Bristol, Jordan, 1997 –
  • Canadian Family Law Quarterly, Agincourt, Ont, Carswell, 1986 –
  • Child and family Law Quarterly, Bristol, Jordan, 1995 –
  • Australian Journal of family Law, Sydney, Lexisnexis, 1986 –

Online Resources

The Family Law Section of the New Zealand Law Society is an active association, and its web pages provide not only a communication focus for its members, and a directory of members of the Section, but is also a source of information through the provision of free online copies of articles from The Family Advocate, the members’ quarterly journal.

The web pages of the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services give access to “news and information about our services and community partnerships, as well as advice and resources to support our vision of safe children, strong families and stronger communities. Other information includes our organisation and structure, the legislation we administer, the Ministers we work to and social work recruitment.” The pull-down menu of “Find it fast” is a good place to go if you are in a hurry to locate succinct advice on such problems as abuse, adoption, and how to get funding.

The Family Court website is clearly set out, and offers general family law information as well as resources such as legislation, forms, brochures and reports. There is also a collection of recent noteworthy judgments from the Family Court, arranged by subject.

The Ministry of Youth Affairs is a focal point for numerous activities involving young people, including information about the Youth Parliament, Youth Councils and the like, as well as providing policy and issues papers and other publications on statistics, policy, and a great deal more. Currently topical issues such as youth suicide get extensive cover, and information is provided and feedback sought from the community.

The Legal Services Agency and ASB Bank have sponsored a site devoted to youth law. Among other things, this is a source of free legal advice to young people.

The Youth Court web site contains useful information for youth, family, and victims who may use the court and are unfamiliar with it or with the youth justice system.

The Office of the Commissioner for Children operates under the Children, Young Persons and their Families Act 1989 to “Monitor and review policy and practice under the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act.” There is assistance for members of the public who wish to make a complaint about alleged mistreatment of children, and an index to publications, some of which are available online. The Office also keeps the community informed about its activities through its pages.

One of the planks in the policy platform of the United Future Party during the 2002 election campaign was the establishment of a Families Commission. The Families Commission Act was subsequently enacted in December 2003, and there is now a web site representing the work of the new Commission to the public.

There is a Family library within Lexisnexis (NZ) Online, containing Family Law Service: Commentary and Legislation, New Zealand Family Law Reports, Fisher on Matrimonial Property, Family Law Journal, and the Child Offenders Manual.

Brookers Online likewise offer a Family Law Library, containing the Family Reports of New Zealand, and legislation and commentary bundled under broad topics: Adult Relationships, Child Law, Family Practice and Procedure, Family property, and Incapacity.


At the time of writing, the only official source of New Zealand legislation is hard copy. The legislation has been published in first pamphlet parts, and then annual volumes since 1854. Details of the publication history of New Zealand legislation may be found in Legal Research and Writing in New Zealand, 2d ed, by Greville, Davidson & Scragg, Wellington 2004.

There are also two commercial electronic versions of the New Zealand statutes, produced by the two rival publishers LexisNexis (NZ) and Brookers. These latter offer enormous advantages over the hard copy, which is kept up to date by a curiously quaint and cumbersome method of biannual manual annotation, involving red pencils and lots of glue. Each of the commercial versions offers such advantages as hypertext links to related regulations, case law, and commentary within each of the jealously guarded bounds of that publisher’s collection of supporting publications.

Since 1998, the Parliamentary Counsel Office has been labouring at the task of generating an official consolidated version of the statutes, which may be cited in Court in the same way as only the paper version may at present. This project fell upon hard times, overran its budget, lurched into technical difficulties, and has only recently resumed work. You can read about the progress of this magnum opus at

In the meantime, since the PCO had undertaken to provide free public access to online consolidated legislation by 2002, New Zealanders have had free access to one of the commercial versions (without all the attachments) at or via NZLII (see below).

Law Reports

The two series of general reports in New Zealand are The New Zealand Law Reports, 1883 – covering the decisions of the superior courts, and The District Court Reports, covering the District Court (formerly the Magistrates Court). The New Zealand Law Reports are authorised by the New Zealand Incorporated Council of Law Reporting, and is published on behalf of the Council by LexisNexis (NZ), who also publish the DCR. Both series are available online, although not back to the beginnings of publication.


  • The Laws of New Zealand, Wellington, LexisNexis (NZ) 1993 – is New Zealand’s legal encyclopaedia, available in a multi-volume looselefa set, and online by subscription.
  • New Zealand Law Journal, Wellington, LexisNexis (NZ) 1928 –
  • New Zealand Law Review, Auckland, Legal Research Foundation, 1995 – (this began life in 1966, and has undergone a number of name changes)
  • Law Societies:
  • LawTalk: Newsletter of the New Zealand Law Society, 1974 –
  • Northern Law News : Newsletter of the Auckland District Law Society, 1969 –
  • Council Brief/Wellington District Law Society, 1973 –
  • Canterbury Tales/ Canterbury District Law Society, 1988 –
  • University Law Schools:
  • New Zealand Universities Law Review, 1963 –
  • Auckland University Law Review, 1967 –
  • Victoria University of Wellington Law Review, 1953 –
  • Otago Law Review, 1953 –
  • Waikato Law Review, 1993 –

Online Resources

New Zealand has been slow to offer free public access to legal information. The three major legal publishers, LexisNexis (NZ), Thomson Brookers, and CCH (NZ) all offer good online access to their publications by subscription.

Free access to legislation (not official) can be found here.

Free access to case law is only very slowly coming on stream. At present, probably the quickest access for the public is on the web pages of the various courts (see under Courts and Tribunals, above). The newly established NZLII (on the AUSTLII/WORLDLII model) is gradually gaining traction, and now offers a single access point for Court of Appeal and Supreme Court decisions. High Court decisions are much more problematic. The High Court web site merely offers access to what are enigmatically named “Judicial Decisions of Public Interest”. There is also an apologetic-sounding offering of links to other sources for judicial decisions.

Since the mid-1980s there have been two indigenous databases of case law digests which evolved out of a need to come to grips with the large number of unreported judgments in circulation, and the perceived slowness of law reporting. These are Briefcase (now a part of the Thomson Brookers suite of electronic resources), and LINX, now available as LINXPlus as part of the LexisNexis (NZ) online suite. Each performs a valuable function at a time when reliable timely access to full text online decisions is still problematic. Both are commercial products, and only available on subscription.

Current Awareness

The two best-known publications for general legal current awareness are The Capital Letter, a weekly publication summarising recent noteworthy cases, new legislation, Bills and Regulations, together with a brief review of legal and political affairs, and Butterworths Current Law, a fortnightly publication covering similar ground.

Government & Politics

(see also Local Government)


The New Zealand Gazette

This is the official newspaper of the government. Official notices and proclamations are published in the Gazette, as are various species of tertiary legislation – some of which are to be found in no other place. The New Zealand Gazette is now mercifully available online through the Department of Internal Affairs, with archives back to 2000 (Notices back to 1993).


See also the section on Parliament below

See also Chapters 1 and 3 above.

The Laws of New Zealand has chapters on Parliament and Elections.

The New Zealand Official Yearbook, prepared by the Register General, 1893 – is a good source of information on facts, figures, and the New Zealand administrative framework. A chapter on Government is included.

The Directory of Official Information, 1983 – (also available online via the Ministry of Justice website) is a treasure chest of information about the agencies of government.

Also helpful are Introduction to New Zealand Government: a guide to finding out about government in New Zealand, its institutions, structures and activities, by J. B. Ringer, and Parliamentary Practice in New Zealand, by David McGee. Both of these are unfortunately now in need of revision to take account of changes in Standing Orders. Parliamentary Practice in New Zealand is soon to appear in a new edition.

Government is a great publisher of information. There are annual reports of government departments, directories, statistics, parliamentary and legislative information, media statements, policy statements and information from local authorities, to name but a few. A great deal of this information is now readily available to the public from the web pages of the individual agencies of government.

The Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1859 – is a pivotal source of government information, including annual reports of Government departments, select committee reports, international agreements, treaties, and conventions, reports of Commissions of Enquiry and Royal Commissions.

Such a work as An Introduction to New Zealand Government, by J. B. Ringer (Christchurch, Hazard Press, 1991), although now considerably out of date in some respects, is still a valuable tool for bringing all the myriad activities of government into some sort of rational order for the researcher.

Online Resources

There is a government portal that connects you to central and local government services. There are directories by subject and by the name of the agencies, with links to the services offered. There is also an online government directory available on subscription (it is also available as an annual volume in print). It contains full listings for all government, parliament, and state sector organisations. It is very comprehensive, and is constantly updated throughout the year.

Te Puna (The National Library) has a most useful directory on its pages for government, law and politics. This offers among other things very convenient access to all the web pages of local bodies. You can also use the pages of Local Government New Zealand to locate information of this sort.

Government agencies likely to be of greatest interest to lawyers include, i.a.:

The Crown Law Office. This organisation provides legal advice to the Crown. Further details of its history and function may be found on the website. At the time of writing, it carries copies of reports on the replacement of the Privy Council, but there is also an archive of previous reports, articles, opinions, and briefing papers.

The Law Commission is government-funded but operates independently to review areas of the law that need reforming or updating. It publishes about 4 series of publications, including preparatory papers that invite public discussion, and also final recommendations to government. These are all conveniently available online, although they may also be purchased in hard copy from the Commission.

The Legal Services Agency is responsible for ensuring equal access to justice for all New Zealanders, and is charged with ensuring that legal aid is applied consistently. Details of its services, along with downloadable documents, are available from their website. At the time of writing, there is an article introducing New Zealand’s first Public Defender.

The portal of New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is dedicated to “providing information about New Zealand’s international relations”. This web site carries useful information relating to international relations, travel, and New Zealand’s trading situation – at the time of writing there is current information on SARS, New Zealand’s recent offer to GATS, and the most recent trade statistics. One of its most valuable assets is not immediately apparent from the front page, but a search of the site will turn up MFAT’s Treaty Register (you can find this page by clicking on Site Map on the front page, then choosing ‘legal’ under International Relations. Here on the right hand side, you will find the treaties and information about them.) This register lists all treaty actions since 2000, including bilateral and multilateral agreements. There is also a New Zealand Consolidated Treaty List of 1996 only available in print, leaving an aching void between 1996 and 2000.

Information about the electoral system and the election process may also be found online. This is particularly lively at the time of writing, with an election due in the next few months.

The Department of Internal Affairs administers such matters as passports, the register of births, deaths, and marriages, local government and much more. The New Zealand Gazette is also published and available on this well-stocked web site (see above).

For foreign government sites, see Governments on the WWW.

Current awareness

Apart form the usual news sources, which are discussed elsewhere, there are three services in particular that serve this area of interest very well.

The Capital Letter is a paper newsletter that is published weekly. Although its principal value to practitioners has traditionally been the summary of cases, it also contains an editorial by either Jack Hodder or Penny Pepperell: ‘A weekly review of administration, legislation & law’, that discusses some topical matter of interest, and there is also a ‘General Review’ section, containing notes of publications and events in the public sector.

Transtasman is also published weekly, both in paper and online. The online version contains some useful free information. It covers current events in politics, business, financial, and farming. A valuable additional feature is the Australian content, particularly of interest to those with transtasman trading interests or research interests in CER.

Other electronic newsletters on public issues include Inside Wellington, a weekly report on Parliament, legislation and central/regional government policy. This has no central webpage, but is available on subscription from Another is Molesworth & Featherston, available both in a free summarised version, and a fuller model.

Health & Medical Law


A number of enactments impact on this area of study. Principal Acts are:

  • Medical Practitioners Act 1995
  • Medicines Act 1981
  • Health Act 1956
  • Health and Disabilities Commissioner Act 1994
  • Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992
  • Dental Act 1988
  • Hospitals Act 1957
  • Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2001
  • Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992
  • Physiotherapy Act 1949

… but many others are indirectly effective in this area.


There are chapters on Health, Medical Practitioners, and Mental Health in the Laws of New Zealand.

  • Medical Law in New Zealand by D. B. C. Collins. Wellington, Brookers, 1992.
  • Health Care and the Law, 3d NZ ed by Susan P. Johnson. Wellington, Brookers 2004.

Online Resources

The Health and Disability Commissioner’s home page – this Office administers the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumer Rights, which is also available online. An archive of the Commissioner’s opinions may be viewed, dating back to 1996, with case notes for 1997, and 2001 – 2003.

There is a Mental Health Commission that offers assistance to consumers of mental health services, and information about the Commission’s work. From this website there is a helpful cluster of links to other organisations whose portfolios intersect with that of the Commission and with health issues in general, including:

The Health Research Council of New Zealand is charged with purchasing and co-ordinating health research in New Zealand.

MEDLINEplus is a vast American source of information on health and medical topics. There are also helpful reference tools linked to the front page, including a medical dictionary and encyclopaedia, plus really up to the minute current awareness snippets on hot topics.

Pharmac is the pharmaceutical agency charged with the responsibility to use the available funding to determine best value medicines for New Zealand.

Both LEXIS and Westlaw have sizeable libraries devoted to medicine and the law.

Immigration and Refugees


  • Immigration Act 1987
  • Citizenship Act 1977
  • Crimes of Torture Act 1989


The Laws of New Zealand has a chapter on Immigration. It also contains information about refugees.

Online Resources

The New Zealand Immigration web site is a well-organised and clearly set out site, with plenty of information for would-be migrants, as well as for New Zealanders seeking information about policies and implementation. There are links to information on the skilled migrant categories and students, and also to the Operations Manual, all from the home page (LHS).

The Removal Review Authority is an independent judicial body that hears appeals on the papers of people who have been required to leave New Zealand. There is access to both summaries and the full text of the decisions of the Authority from this page.

The Residence Appeal Authority hears appeals on the papers from unsuccessful applicants for New Zealand residence visas or permits. This site is similar in format to the Removal Review Authority, and similarly provides access to the Authority’s decisions.

New Zealand Refugee Law is a website ‘dedicated to New Zealand refugee law. It provides browsable access to the full-text decisions of the Refugee Status Appeals Authority, and to relevant decisions of the High Court and Court of Appeal. It also contains the Practice Notes of the RSAA, along with much helpful material for lawyers practising in this area.

The Refugee Status Appeals Authority is a site organised along the same lines as the Residence Appeal Authority, with a search engine providing access to its decisions and to those of the High Court and Court of Appeal.

The Refugee Resettlement Service, ‘New Zealand’s Refugee Resettlement Agency’, is an incorporated society dedicated to assisting refugee survivors in New Zealand. It contains news and other information about refugee matters, and an outline of a training programme for those who work with refugees.

Insurance Law


  • Life Insurance Act 1908
  • Marine Insurance Act 1908
  • Insurance Companies Deposits Act 1953
  • Insurance Law Reform Act 1977
  • Insurance Law Reform Act 1985

Law Reports

  • Australian and New Zealand Insurance Cases, North Ryde, NSW, CCH, 1982 – (also online)


There is a chapter on Insurance in the Laws of New Zealand.

  • Insurance Law: Practice, Policy and Principles, edited by Duncan Webb and David Rowe. Christchurch, Centre for Commercial and Corporate Law, 2004.
  • Insurance Law, presented by Mel Easton and Nicole Edelman. Wellington, New Zealand Law Society, 2000
  • Insurance Law in New Zealand, 2d ed, by A. A. Tarr and J. A. Kennedy. North Ryde, NSW, LBC, 1992.
  • The Australian and New Zealand Insurance Reporter, North Ryde, NSW, CCH, 1982- (looseleaf)
  • Studies in Insurance Law: Papers by New Zealand Practitioners, edited by Paul Walker and Stephen Rogers. Wellington, VUW Law Review, 1996.


  • Insurance Law Journal, Sydney, Butterworths, 1988 – (also via Lexis and Lexisnexis Online)
  • Insurance and Reinsurance Law Briefing, London, Sweet & Maxwell, 2001 –

Online Resources

The Office of the Insurance and Savings Ombudsman was established in 1994 to offer an independent and impartial disputes resolution service between complainants and participating insurers in relation to matters involving no more than $100,000. The website offers guidelines for making complaints, and publishes a downloadable newsletter, and other publications. The effectiveness of the Office is subject to review by the Retirement Commissioner.

The Earthquake Commission offers such exciting but ominous information as the time and location of the most recent New Zealand earthquake, and some cam-shots of volcanoes, but also provides research papers, information about safeguarding your home, and claims information.

The Insurance and Superannuation Unit (ISU) of the Ministry of Economic Development supervises the management of registered superannuation schemes and ensures insurance companies comply with the statutory obligations under the Life Insurance Act 1908 and Insurance Companies’ Deposits Act 1953. The website offers rating schedules, forms and fees, and a selection of related sites in New Zealand and overseas. The web site provides access to newsletters, which in turn provide details about recent decisions.

The Insurance Council of New Zealand represents fire and general insurers in New Zealand. The website contains information for both industry and consumers, and information about fire engineering, along with details of any current issues.

The Investment Savings and Insurance Association (ISI) represents investment and life insurance companies in New Zealand. The website contains information of interest to members and to consumers, including a manual of practice standards and a list of members, with web addresses.

Intellectual Property


  • Copyright Act 1994
  • Patents Act 1953

Law Reports and Case Law

The Intellectual Property Reports, 1983 – (paper, and via Lexisnexis Online) although published in Australia, cover cases from a wide range of jurisdictions, including New Zealand. Most important New Zealand cases find their way into the NZLR, and a search in LINXPlus and/or Briefcase will turn up numerous unreported decisions.

For current developments in New Zealand Intellectual Property law, see the website of Andrew Brown QC, co-author of The Law of Intellectual Property in New Zealand. This provides a useful list of recent cases, with summaries, plus notes on recent legislative changes.


There are 5 chapters in The Laws of New Zealand, each dealing with a different aspect of the subject: Intellectual Property: Confidential Information, Intellectual Property: Copyright, Intellectual Property: Fair Trading, Intellectual Property: Registered Design, and Intellectual Property: Trade Marks. There are a further two chapters on Patents and Inventions.

  • Intellectual Property in New Zealand: Copyright and Design, by B. Brown et al. Wellington, Butterworths, 1996 – (looseleaf, CD and online by subscription)
  • Intellectual Property in New Zealand, by S. Frankel and G. McLay. Wellington, Butterworths, 2002


  • New Zealand Intellectual Property Journal, Wellington, Butterworths, 1995 –
  • Copyright Council News, Auckland, Copyright Council of New Zealand, 2000 –
  • Australian Intellectual Property Journal, North Ryde, NSW, LBC, 1992 –
  • European Intellectual Property Review, Oxford, WIPO, 1978 –

Online Resources

The Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) registers trade marks, patents and designs. You can search the databases of registered trade marks, patents and designs, and also apply to register online. Further information is available through the Information link, and includes access to relevant legislation and international instruments.

Patent and trade mark attorneys Pipers website is a treasure chest of useful information, whose scope is much wider than might be imagined. It offers a lively and still developing collection of New Zealand and foreign sites of interest to many sectors besides IP.

For current developments in New Zealand Intellectual Property law, see the website of Andrew Brown QC, co-author of The Law of Intellectual Property in New Zealand. This provides a useful list of recent cases, with summaries, plus notes on recent legislative changes.

The web pages of a leading New Zealand intellectual property law firm offers current information of all kinds relevant to the New Zealand IP scene, including newsletters with both a New Zealand and an international flavour, news, and a cluster of useful links.

James and Wells, patent attorneys, have a well-stocked website, directed at foreigners needing an overview of New Zealand context for this area of law, as well as a lot of news and publications of value to local and foreign readers.

There is growing interest in the progress of The Crown and Flora and Fauna: Legislation, Policies, and Practices 1983 – 1998, or ‘WAI 262’, the research relating to a claim before the Waitangi Tribunal relating to Maori interests in indigenous species, among other things.

Meanwhile, the Plant Variety Rights Office administers the Plant Variety Rights Act 1987 under which grants of plant variety rights may be issued to breeders for their new plant varieties. The website contains information and forms.

There is an Intellectual Property section on the ubiquitous Ministry of Economic Development site. The Ministry is responsible for policy relating to the protection of intellectual property. Through IPONZ (see above), the Ministry grants patents and registers trademarks and designs and through the Plant Variety Rights Office (see above), the Ministry grants plant variety rights. This is a site packed with information both for those in the industry and for consumers.

The Intellectual Property Society of Australia and New Zealand Inc is mainly of interest to members, although it includes some extracts form its journal Intellectual Property Forum that may be of interest to researchers.

The World Intellectual Property Organisation is the hub for all IP activity on the international stage.

Justice and Corrections


There are around 150 Acts administered by the Ministry of Justice, although some are jointly administered with other agencies. The list is available on the Ministry’s web site and in the Directory of Official Information.


There are chapters in the Laws of New Zealand on Courts, Juries, Legal Services, Police, Prisons & Enforcement of Sentences, and Sentencing.

A keyword search in any law library catalogue on, for example, ‘criminal justice Zealand’ will retrieve a wide range of results, mostly on specific aspects of the subject. The Ministry of Justice is itself a prolific publisher of reports and other information – see below under Online Resources.

Online Resources


The Ministry of Justice web pages are a valuable source of information regarding the work of the ministry and about this sector as a whole. This includes the latest statistics on conviction and sentencing (and an archive of previous statistics), much loved by researchers in many disciplines. Consistent with the move to restorative justice, there are reports and information briefs on victims’ rights, under ‘Victims’ and ‘Penalties and Restitution’. Another current hot topic is that of youth drinking, and there are statistics available on this.

The present Ministry of Justice was formed as of 1 October 2003 from the merger of the former Ministry with the Department for Courts. There is access to the previous Department for Courts’ web pages from the Ministry’s pages.


The Ministry works collaboratively with the Department of Corrections, which, as one might expect, administers the sentences of people convicted in the courts. It also carries out research on various aspects of the corrections process, including statistics and forecasts, and publishes news, reports and other publications online.


Another government entity with which the Ministry works collaboratively is the New Zealand Police. The Police web pages contain news about crime and police activities, seasonal advice (e.g., traffic tips for the Christmas holiday season), annual reports and statistics.

Land Law

New Zealand is still a fundamentally agricultural country, and not surprisingly, its lawyers are well supplied with literature on land law matters.


The principal Acts dealing with the main areas of this subject are:

  • Property Law Act 1952
  • Land Transfer Act 1952
  • Unit Titles Act 1972
  • Residential Tenancies Act 1986.

Law Reports

  • New Zealand Conveyancing Cases, Auckland, CCH, 1992 –
  • Australian and New Zealand Conveyancing Reports, North Ryde, NSW, 1981 –
  • New Zealand Conveyancing and Property Reports, Wellington, LexisNexis (NZ) is an old series that ceased after the 1st 2 volumes (1883 – 1900), but this has now been exhumed by LexisNexis (NZ) as a 12 issue p.a. series available by subscription.


The Laws of New Zealand contains chapters on Easements, Land Law, and Landlord and Tenant.

There are four looseleaf services providing for this sector:

  • Adams Land Transfer, by E. C. Adams et al. Wellington, LexisNexis (NZ), c1993-1995 – (looseleaf, CD, and online by subscription);
  • Land Law in New Zealand, by Hinde, McMorland & Sim. Wellington, Lexisnexis, 2003 – (looseleaf, CD, and online by subscription)
  • Brookers Land Law, by Andrew Alston et al. Wellington, Brookers, 1995 – (looseleaf, CD, and online by subscription); and
  • New Zealand Conveyancing Law and Practice. Auckland, CCH, 1989 – (looseleaf, CD, and online by subscription).
  • New Zealand Land Law, by Tom Bennion et al. Wellington, Brookers, 2005
  • Butterworths Land Law in New Zealand, by G. W. Hinde et al. Wellington, LexisNexis (NZ), 2004.
  • Sale of Land, 2d ed by D. W. McMorland. Auckland, Cathcart Trust, 2000
  • Maori Land Law, by Richard Boast et al. Wellington, Butterworths, 1999
  • Torrens in the Twenty-first Century, by David Grinlinton. Wellington, LexisNexis (NZ), 2003


  • Butterworths Conveyancing Bulletin, Wellington, Lexisnexis, 1985 –

Online Resources

Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) is responsible for land and seabed related policy and regulatory matters. It offers policy advice to the government, is responsible for providing core geographical information, administers the Crown’s interest in land, and ensures a secure environment for trading in property. It offers the public (as opposed to legal and real estate professionals, for whom LandOnline is intended, see below) the ability to order online a copy of a land record anywhere in New Zealand through its Skylight Internet Ordering System.

It is also responsible for customer services relating to land titles and survey plans, and maintains the LandOnline database. “Landonline is the online service for surveyors, lawyers and other land professionals, providing access to New Zealand’s only authoritative database for land title and survey information. It enables land professionals to search, and to lodge title dealings and survey data digitally.”

Terranet is a fee-based information provider specialising in property information, including printable reports and property sales histories. It is part of an international body whose specialties include aerial photography and imagery, photogrammetry, property information, spatial data capture, cartography and data integration solutions.

In the area of property valuation and conveyancing, Quotable Value (QV) offers a fee-based based infobase containing rating valuation, property history, valuation, sales detail and history, and more. QV claims to be New Zealand’s most experienced and capable provider of valuations for rating purposes for local authorities.

For the Good Kiwi Joker’s Guide to DIY house sales, see Propertyweb, where you will find listings for New Zealand property offered for sale by their owners.

There are now a number of commercial online sites advertising properties for sale, with some offering virtual tours of properties. Examples are:

The Maori Land Court (Te Kooti Whenua Maori) is administered by the Department for Courts and hears matters relating to Maori land. It has its own active web site. All relevant Acts and regulations are listed on the site, with links to free copies of them via Lexisnexis. Unfortunately, this database is only up to date as at 2003. Contact details about the various registries of the Court are available.

The Property Law Section of the NZLS provides information for members in a secure section of the website, and for the public, such as a list of property lawyers, and some dos and don’ts about buying and selling property.

Lexisnexis Butterworths Online offers a Property and Conveyancing Library that contains Hinde, McMorland & Sim Land Law in New Zealand, Adams Land Transfer and Butterworths Conveyancing Bulletin (subscription)

Brookers Online offers the electronic version of Brookers Land Law as an integrated part of its Property, Trusts, and Succession Library (subscription)

CCH online offers access to its property and conveyancing library, which contains the electronic equivalent of the New Zealand Conveyancing Law and Practice as well as the New Zealand Conveyancing Cases 1989 – and an archive of the Bulletins that accompany the updates to the looseleaf service (subscription).

Legislation and Rules

  • Law Practitioners’ Act 1982


The relevant chapter in the Laws of New Zealand is Law Practitioners.

  • Ethics, Professional responsibility and the Lawyer, by Duncan Webb. Wellington, Butterworths, 2000.
  • Lawyers’ Responsibility in Australia and New Zealand, 2d ed by G. E. Dal Pont. Sydney, LBC, 2001.

Online Resources

The New Zealand Law Society Rules of Professional Conduct for Barristers and Solicitors, 6th ed 2000 (the current version is available on the NZ Law Society website, where it is kept up to date.)

Regulatory Law is a UK web journal for lawyers involved in regulation, professional conduct, and disciplinary proceedings.

The rules for practitioners in the Australian states can be found on the web pages of the various law societies; for example, the Solicitors’ Rules that pertain to NSW may be found through the pages of the Law Society of New South Wales.


  • A New Zealand Legal History, 2d ed by P. Spiller, J. Finn, and R. Boast. Wellington, Brookers, 2001


  • Journal of Legal History, London, Cass, 1980 –
  • Australian Journal of Legal History, Adelaide, Adelaide Law Review Assoc., 1995 –
  • American Journal of Legal History, Philadelphia, Pa., Temple University School of Law, 1957 –

(see also: Legal Ethics, above)


  • The Law Practitioners Act, 1982

A Lawyers and Conveyancers Bill is presently wending its way through Parliament. This will profoundly change the manner in which the practice of law is governed in New Zealand when it is enacted.


  • The Laws of New Zealand has a chapter on Law Practitioners.
  • Law Stories: essays on the New Zealand Legal Profession1969 – 2003, editor in chief Sir Ian Barker. Wellington, Lexisnexis, 2003
  • Cordery on Solicitors, London, Butterworths, 1995 – (looseleaf)

Online Resources

New Zealand Law Society – Foreign lawyers hoping to practice in New Zealand will find helpful information here.

Auckland District Law Society – helpful links to all the committees (e.g., Criminal Law, Property and Business law, Public Issues etc) of the ADLS, with contact details of the members. This is an active, interesting, up to date site, with a great deal of useful information for lawyers and the public in search of lawyers.

Auckland District Law Society Library & Research Centre – this is a very good site for recent happenings in the law via the electronic ‘Whiteboard’, for example, recent ‘hot’ cases, the appearance of a cluster of New Zealand legal resources on WORLDLII (selective, and all available elsewhere, but conveniently gathered together nonetheless).

The Wellington District Law Society similarly has an informative web site, with access to the Library services, names of lawyers, membership of committees, and information for the public.

Law Firm websites are used in a variety of ways. First, they offer a law firm a visible presence on the web, with a hint of the flavour of the firm, an overview of services and specialities, and contact details. Secondly, many provide teasers by way of access to their client newsletters, offering a taste of the scholarship and legal know-how of the firm. Often, these will be the first off the rank in the wake of a new piece of legislation or a ground-breaking case, so they are worth keeping an eye on. Thirdly, many firms provide a recruitment section, giving an overview of the firm and its areas of practice, and sometimes providing information about how to apply to join them. Fourthly, some firm websites include a secure intranet area that is accessible only to clients, where documents and other information can be shared.

There is a far from comprehensive list of links to New Zealand law firms at that will provide examples of these attributes.

The Wellington and Auckland Law Society websites offer a facility for finding a lawyer; in the case of Auckland, you can choose to make your search across the whole of New Zealand, or limit it to Auckland. See:

  • Australian and New Zealand Legal Abbreviations, 2d ed by C. Fong and E. Edwards. Sydney, ALLG (NSW), 1995. A new edition of this valuable resource has been in preparation for some time. Hopefully it will be on our shelves in the very near future!
  • The Laws of New Zealand, Wellington, Butterworths, 1993 – (multi-volume looseleaf, CD, and online by subscription)
  • New Zealand Legal Words and Phrases. Consolidated Index, Wellington, Butterworths, 2001 (also via Lexisnexis Online)
  • Index to the New Zealand Statutes, by P. Smailes. Wellington, Butterworths, 1993 – (looseleaf)
  • Butterworths New Zealand Law Dictionary, 5th ed by P. Spiller. Wellington, Butterworths, 2001

Online Resources

New Zealand

  • Legal Research and Writing in New Zealand, 2d ed by M. Greville, J. S. Davidson and R. Scragg. Wellington, Lexisnexis Butterworths, 2004.
  • e-research for New Zealand Lawyers, by B. Wainwright. Wellington, Butterworths, 2001.
  • There is also a short section on legal research in the New Zealand context in Introduction to the New Zealand Legal System, by R. D. Mulholland.
  • The Law of research: a Guide, edited by John Dawson and Nicola Peart. Dunedin, University of Otago Press, 2003.


  • New Zealand’s Legal System: the Principles of Legal Method, by Richard Scragg. Melbourne, OUP, 2005
  • The New Zealand Legal System, 3d ed by M. McDowell and D. Webb. Wellington, Lexisnexis Butterworths, 2002
  • Introduction to the New Zealand Legal System, 10th ed by R. D. Mulholland. Wellington, Butterworths, 2001.

Online Resources


(See also above under General Legal Information)


See also below, under: Online Resources.

  • Acts and Regulations Publication Act 1989
  • Imperial Laws Application Act 1988
  • Interpretation Act 1999
  • Legislature Act 1908
  • Statutes Drafting and Compilation Act 1920


There is a Statutes chapter in The Laws of New Zealand

  • Statute Law in New Zealand, 3d ed by J. F. Burrows. Wellington, Lexisnexis, 2003.
  • Acts Interpretation, by R. G. Glover. Wellington, Brookers, 1991 – (looseleaf)
  • Statutory Interpretation: Problems of Communication, by Jim Evans. Auckland, OUP, 1988

Online Resources


See above under General Legal Information. An unofficial version of current consolidated legislation as well as Statutory Regulations and Bills is available.


Hansard (the New Zealand Parliamentary Debates) is available from the web pages of the Clerk of the House of Representatives, along with such related documents as Select Committee Reports, Order Papers and Parliamentary Questions.

Up to date news about happenings in, around, and very loosely about Parliament may be picked up from Scoop.

Local Government


The main pieces of legislation are:

  • Local Government Act 2002
  • Local Government Act 1974 (some parts have been retained.)
  • Local Electoral Act 2001
  • Local Government (Rating) Act 2002

There are numerous other Acts impacting on this area of practice, as the table of statutes in a relevant text or online library will attest.

Law Reports

  • Local Government Case Law, Auckland, DSL/Brookers


Local Government is the chapter in the Laws of New Zealand dealing with this subject.

  • A Guide to the Local Government Act 2002, by Vivienne Wilson and Jonathan Salter of Simpson Grierson, Wellington, Brookers, 2003.
  • Local Government and the Treaty of Waitangi, edited by Janine Hayward. Auckland, OUP, 2003.
  • There are two looseleaf services in this field:
  • Local Government Law in New Zealand, Wellington, Thomson Brookers, 2002 – (2 vols, looseleaf and online by subscription)
  • Lexisnexis Local Government. Wellington, Lexisnexis, 2003 – (1 vol, looseleaf and online by subscription)

Online Resources

Local Government Online (LGOL) was established in September 1997 under a joint initiative of the Society of Local Government Managers (SOLGM) and the Association of Local Government Information Management (ALGIM). Owned jointly by SOLGM & ALGIM, the website offers Internet related services to the local government sector. Deeply buried (Services for Councils > Resource Library > Management & Governance > Law) is a page of links to (rather random) local government related legal resources, some free, but mostly subscription or pay as you go. One link is to “Newsletter (3): Local Government Act 2002 & Local Government (Rating) Act 2002, and this useful document actually hangs off the website of the Department of Internal Affairs:

The Department of Internal Affairs website is home to the Local Government Commissions web presence, where there are gathered a series of determinations and reports of the Commission along with media releases.

There is also a really good web directory accessible through the Te Puna Web Directory. This includes directories to websites of all regional, city and district councils.

There is a Local Government library within Brookers Online, containing a very recently written commentary on the new Local Government Act, as well as the older related annotated 1974 legislation known as McVeagh. This library also contains the database of Brookers Local Government Cases.

Lexisnexis has recently published Lexisnexis Local Government, a looseleaf service which is also available on Lexisnexis Online.

Maritime Law


  • The Admiralty Act 1973
  • Fisheries Act 1996 (and other fisheries legislation)
  • Marine Insurance Act 1908
  • Maritime Transport Act 1994
  • Sale of Goods (United Nations Convention) 1994
  • Sea Carriage of Goods Act 1940
  • Shipping Act 1987
  • Ship Registration Act 1992
  • Territorial Sea, Contiguous Zone, & Exclusive Economic Zone Act 1977


The Laws of New Zealand contains chapters on Carriers, and Ports and Harbours, and there are numerous sections of other chapters that deal with related matters – eg, marine insurance within the Insurance chapter etc.

Online Resources

The Maritime Law Association of Australia and New Zealand has a secure area for members, and another area for ‘guests’ to the website. Among other things, there is a useful archive of newsletters and journal articles, and also past conference papers.

The Maritime Safety Authority is a Crown entity. It contains a very helpful cluster of Acts, Regulations, and Rules that operate in this area, as well as a great deal of helpful information for and about the industry.

Media & Telecommunications Law


The principal Acts are:

  • Broadcasting Act 1989
  • Copyright Act 1994
  • Defamation Act 1992
  • Films, Videos and Classifications Act 1993
  • Official Information Act 1982

Other legislation and regulations impact on particular aspects of this broad subject – see the Table of Statutes in Burrows, below.


The Laws of New Zealand has a chapter on Censorship and another on Media and Communication.

  • Media Law in New Zealand, 5th ed, by J. F. Burrows and Ursula Cheer. Auckland, OUP, 2005.

Online Resources

The Ministry of Economic Development: Communications Sector

Decisions and rulings of the following bodies may be found on their websites:



  • The Constitution Act 1986
  • The Legislature Act 1908
  • Bill of Rights Act 1688 (Eng)
  • Imperial Laws Application Act 1988
  • Clerk of the House of Representatives Act 1988
  • Parliamentary Service Act 2000

Other primary resources

Standing Orders

These govern the conduct of proceedings in the House and also contain rules for the exercise of the powers possessed by the House. They are reviewed by the Standing Orders Committee. They are published as a separate entity, and also within the Appendix to the Journal of the House of Representatives.

New Zealand Parliamentary Debates (‘Hansard’)

As one would expect, these record the debates that take place according to Standing Orders during the passage of a Bill through Parliament.

Journal of the House of Representatives

This is the official record of the activities of the House, outlining the business of the day.

Appendix to the Journal of the House of Representatives

This consists of a huge number of documents that Parliament orders to be printed from among the larger number of papers that are tabled in Parliament. They are known as Parliamentary Papers, and are published separately, posted on the Clerk’s web pages, and finally bound following the end of the life of each Parliament. They include annual reports of government departments, select committee reports, reports of Royal Commissions and Committees of Enquiry, the Budget, and much more.

Order Papers

These are prepared by the Clerk of the House, and set out the agenda for the House each day.

Supplementary Order Papers

These advise on proposed amendments to Bills before the House. They supplement the Explanatory Note on the face of the first version of the Bill.

New Zealand Parliament Bills

This is the form in which proposed legislation is introduced into Parliament. See under ‘How a Bill becomes an Act’ and ‘Varieties of Bills’ in Chapter 4, New Zealand Legislation for more detail.

New Zealand Statutes

Statutes, or Acts, are the final form of the Bill after it has been passed by Parliament and received the assent of the Governor General. See above, in Chapter 4, New Zealand Legislation for more detail.


There is a chapter on Parliament in the Laws of New Zealand.

The standard work on this subject in New Zealand is Parliamentary Practice in New Zealand, 2d ed, by David McGee. Wellington, GP Publications, 1994. Although there have been very significant changes in both Standing Orders and in the electoral system (although the latter is signalled in the book) since 1994, the work is still a most valuable resource. It is good to know that a new edition will be published in 2005.

The bible for Westminster-style Parliaments remains Erskine May: Erskine May’s Treatise on the law, privileges, proceedings, and usage of Parliament, 23rd ed by Sir William McKay. London, Butterworths, 1997.

Constitutional and Administrative Law in New Zealand, 2nd ed, by Philip A Joseph. Wellington, Brookers, 2001

Online Resources

New Zealand’s parliamentary website is It has become increasingly valuable as a source of information about the offices, personnel, activities, and publications of Parliament, all accessible from the links on the front page. There has been a great expansion of content on these pages, and this is a huge benefit to the public of New Zealand.

  • Under House and Committees, one finds current details of when the House sits, the Order Paper for the day, and information about the work of select committees. There is also a link to the full text reports themselves.
  • Politics and News offers sources of parliamentary news, and policy and other information about all political parties. Another good source of news about Parliamentary and Governmental activities from a government point of view is Beehive.
  • The Office of the Clerk site is especially helpful – a banner lets you know if Parliament is sitting on this day, and there is a handy link to all aspects of the daily activities of the House, and information about the office of the Clerk itself. There is now access to a huge volume of Parliamentary information from the Clerk’s pages (see under Publications).
  • The link to the Parliamentary Counsel pages takes one into the tantalizing world of the PAL project. You can read more than you want to know about the stately process of our legislation on to the web, and watch daily for the unlikely announcement of its satisfactory completion. There is also a link to a truncated version of the Annual Tables of Acts and Ordinances and Statutory Regulations in Force; it is a list of Principal Acts only, with no amending legislation. The link to the Interim Website of New Zealand Legislation takes one to a free copy of Brookers Statutes of New Zealand, which has been supplied to fill the gap until the official version comes on stream.



  • The Partnership Act 1908


The Laws of New Zealand has a chapter on Partnership and Joint Venture.

  • Higgins and Fletcher the Law of Partnership in Australia and New Zealand, 8th ed by Keith L. Fletcher. Sydney, LBC, 2001
  • Principles of the Law of Partnership, 6th ed by P. R. H. Webb and Anthony Molloy. Wellington, Butterworths, 1996
  • An Outline of the Law of Partnership, 2d ed by Stephen Graw. Sydney, LBC, 2001

Personal Injury


  • The governing legislation is now the Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation, and Compensation Act 2001.

Law Reports

  • Brookers Accident Compensation Cases, 1987 – (online only)


The relevant chapter in the Laws of New Zealand is Accident Compensation.

  • Brookers Personal Injury in New Zealand, by Hazel Armstrong et al. Wellington, Brookers, 2002 – (Looseleaf, CD, & online by subscription)
  • Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation, and Compensation: Act and Analysis, by Param Jegatheeson. Wellington, Brookers, 2002
  • Personal Injury Litigation: a Practical Approach, presented by Wendy Brandon et al. Wellington, New Zealand Law Society, 2002.

Online Resources

The former governing legislation was the Accident Compensation Act, and the website still bears the old name and logo. There is plenty of information about injury prevention, how to make a claim, and a helpful potted summary of the history of the legislation, but no decisions of the Commission.

The Employment Library in Brookers Online contains both Personal Injury in New Zealand (an electronic version of the looseleaf service with the same title) and the Accident Compensation Cases.

Personal Property Law


The Personal Property Securities Act 1999 has displaced an earlier regime referred to first in the 1970s (and frequently thereafter)as a ‘quagmire’ by replacing the Chattels Transfer Act 1924, the charging rules of the Companies Act 1955, and the Motor Vehicle Securities Act 1989.


The Laws of New Zealand has chapters on Personal Property and Personal Property Securities.

A general work on personal property is: Garrow and Fenton’s Law of Personal Property in New Zealand, 6th ed by R. T. Fenton. Wellington, Butterworths, 1998. Although it was published just before the passing of the Personal Property Securities Act, the author was aware of the pending change of regime, and discusses the Bill and the draft Act.

Books specifically dealing with the new regime are:

  • Personal Properties Securities Act: a Conceptual Approach, rev. ed by L. Widdup and L. Mayne. Wellington, Lexisnexis Butterworths, 2002.
  • Personal Property Securities in New Zealand, by M. Gedye, R. C. C. Cuming, and R. J. Wood. Wellington, Brookers, 2002.
  • Guidebook to New Zealand Personal Property Securities Law, by B. Allan. Auckland, CCH, 2002.

Online Resources

The Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) is hosted on the Companies Registration page of the Ministry of Economic Development web site. Among other things, this page links to a list of publications on the regime. The PPSR site itself is at It is necessary to register as a user before searching the register, and there is a charge, as there is in the parallel companies regime.

Public Law

(see also Rights and Freedoms, below)


It is difficult to single out particular Acts that apply in this area, because of its breadth. A very tentative selection, far from comprehensive, follows:

  • Colonial Laws Validity Act 1865 (UK)
  • Constitution Act 1986
  • Crown Proceedings Act 1950
  • Electoral Act 1993
  • Habeas Corpus Act 2001
  • Human Rights Act 1993
  • Legislature Act 1908
  • New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990
  • New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 (UK)
  • Official Information Act 1982
  • Statute of Westminster 1931 (UK)
  • Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1947
  • Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975

Law Reports

  • New Zealand Administrative Reports, Butterworths, 1976 –


The Laws of New Zealand has chapters on: Citizenship and Nationality, Crown Proceedings and Crown Practice, Discrimination, Elections, Human Rights, Riots, Breach of Peace and Unlawful Assembly, and State Sector.

  • Constitutional and Administrative Law in New Zealand 2nd ed by Philip A. Joseph. Wellington, Brookers, 2001.
  • Public Law in New Zealand: Cases, Materials, Commentary and Questions, by Mai Chen and Sir Geoffrey Palmer. Auckland, OUP, 1993
  • Essays on the Constitution, edited by Philip A. Joseph. Wellington, Brookers, 1995.
  • Bridled Power? By Matthew Palmer and Geoffrey Palmer. South Melbourne, Vic., 2003.

Online Resources

Chen and Palmer, a law firm specialising in public law, invite readers to visit their online ‘library’, where, under ‘Publications’ the reader may find an archive of the weekly Wellington Watch, and a number of transcripts of interviews, presentations and articles on public law matters.

Sir Kenneth Keith’s Cabinet Manual on the Constitution of New Zealand: an Introduction to the Foundations of the Current Form of Government, 1990, updated in 2001, is a handy introduction to this area of the subject.

Rights and Freedoms


  • The New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990
  • The Human Rights Act 1993.
  • Privacy Act 1993

There is considerable convoluted and intestinal intersection and interaction between the effects of the first two Acts above. This is succinctly commented on in The New Zealand Bill of Rights, by Paul Rishworth et al. If one were crudely to distinguish between the workings of the two with a hatchet in hand rather than delicately with a scalpel, one might boldly declare that the Bill of Rights is perhaps more to be seen in action in the arena of criminal procedure, while the Human Rights Act is more evident in everyday matters of discrimination, and perhaps especially in the workplace. The Bill of Rights was enacted to affirm New Zealand’s commitment to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The stated purpose in the long title of the Human Rights Act is broader, it is: “to provide better protection of human rights in New Zealand in general accordance with United Nations Covenants or Covenants on Human Rights”.

Law Reports

  • New Zealand Bill of Rights Reports, 1990 – 1992
  • Human Rights Reports of New Zealand, 1991 – (paper and on Thomson Brookers Online)


The Laws of New Zealand has chapters on Discrimination and Human Rights.

  • Brookers Human Rights Law, by I. Adzoxornu (updated by F. Joychild in 2002), Wellington, Brookers, 1996 – (looseleaf, CD, and online by subscription). This work helpfully contains the annotated legislation of both Acts, and all the related the international instruments are provided in a supplementary binder.
  • Privacy Law and Practice, by Paul Roth et al. Wellington, Butterworths, 1994 – (looseleaf, online by subscription)
  • Rights and Freedoms: The New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 and the Human Rights Act 1993, by G. Huscroft and P. Rishworth. Wellington, Brookers, 1995.
  • The New Zealand Bill of Rights, by Paul Rishworth et al. Auckland, OUP, 2003
  • Since there is a relationship between the New Zealand and Canadian legislation, the Canadian Human Rights Reporter 1980 – is also a valuable research aid.


  • Private Word: News from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, Wellington, the Office, 1995 –

Online Resources

The Human Rights Commission website at contains much topical news and educative material. It offers access to the archive of all the Case Notes of the Commission. Before 2000, the HRC had legal authority to form an opinion as to whether there had been a breach of the Act. That is no longer the case. Case notes are no longer published; instead the Commission focuses more on providing a disputes resolution process, and providing educative material. The Human Rights Review Tribunal has heard cases under the Human Rights Act since 2001. There is a helpful flow-chart on these pages giving an overview of the dispute resolution process. There are links to websites containing related material from national and international organisations, including the texts of the international covenants given effect in our legislation.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner maintains a website where codes of practice, case notes, and articles, media reports and other information are collected. There is a helpful drop-down menu that provides the facility to search all these strands simultaneously by subject or industry sector, so that one can retrieve a comprehensive bundle of primary and secondary material very quickly. Archives of the Case Notes and Private Word may also be browsed.

In the international arena, a great deal of primary and secondary information is available on the UN Human Rights pages.

Taxation Law


Income Tax Act 2004

Goods and Services Act 1985

Tax Administration Act 1994

Taxation Review Authorities Act 1994.

CCH publishes annual compilations of tax legislation

Law Reports

New Zealand Tax Cases


The Laws of New Zealand has a chapter on Taxation.

  • New Zealand Master Tax Guide (annual) CCH
  • Staples Guide to New Zealand Tax Practice (annual) Brookers
  • New Zealand Income Tax Law and Practice, Auckland, CCH, 1986 – (looseleaf, contains legislation, cases, and commentary; also available on CD and online)

Online Resources

On taxation matters, the first port of call must be the Department of Inland Revenue (IRD). There is a great deal of free information on these web pages for the ordinary taxpayer as well as for lawyers and accountants. There are also links to taxation authorities in other jurisdictions. There is a whole list of free subscription material you can sign up for on assorted aspects of the taxation regime.

CCH provides a series of online services, some free and some fee-based, on the subjects where is has a publishing presence in the market. In the tax area, it is also possible to register for a free email alert to news about tax issues as they are posted to the website. On a subscription basis you can gain access to a full range of taxation legislation, case law (from New Zealand, Australia, Great Britain, and Canada), and commentary, reflecting the text of New Zealand Income Tax Law and Practice, New Zealand Tax Cases, and the Master Tax Guide.

Smart Tax is available via Brookers Online by subscription



While much of the law of torts remains a creature of the common law, the legislature has nibbled away at the rougher edges somewhat. Personal injury in New Zealand is now governed by the Accident Rehabilitation and Compensation Insurance Act 1992 (see above, under Personal Injury).

  • The Defamation Act 1992
  • Limitation Act 1950
  • Occupiers’ Liability Act 1962
  • Contributory Negligence Act 1947
  • Trespass Act 1980, Harassment Act 1997
  • Privacy Act 1993

… are but a few in this area; the table of statutes in The Law of Torts in New Zealand, 3d ed, by Todd et al runs to some 20 pages.

Law Reports

  • Australian Torts Reports, North Ryde, NSW, CCH, 1984 –


There is a chapter on Tort in the Laws of New Zealand.

  • The Law of Torts in New Zealand, 3d ed, by Stephen Todd et al. Wellington, Brookers 2001


  • Torts Law Journal, Sydney, Butterworths, 1993 – (also via Lexisnexis Online)
  • Tort Law Review, North Ryde, NSW, LBC, 1993 –

Transport and Motor Vehicles


  • Land Transport Act 1998
  • Transit New Zealand Act 1989
  • Land Transport Management Act 2003
  • Traffic Regulations 1976


  • Brookers Law of Transportation, Wellington, Thomson Brookers, 1994 – (looseleaf and on Thomson Brookers Online)
  • Transport Law, Judge Becroft, Geoff Hall and Richard Mark. Wellington, Lexisnexis, 1976 – (looseleaf and online)

Online Resources

The Ministry of Transport pages offer information about the work of the Ministry (largely policy development and advice to the government, and monitoring a number of transport agencies, including the Land Transport Safety Authority and Transit New Zealand. It also manages the Motor Vehicle Registry.

The Land Transport Safety Authority is concerned with driver licensing and road safety, and provides a great deal of useful information on traffic-related matters to the public. You can also access the New Zealand Road Code online from this site, and read the Acts and Regulations.

The Police are responsible for enforcement matters, and the Police web pages have further traffic safety information.

Brookers Law of Transportation is available via Thomson Brookers Online, as part of the Criminal Law Library, where it is hyper-linked to cases in the Criminal Reports of New Zealand.

Transport Law is similarly available online via Lexisnexis Online.

Wills & Succession Law


  • The Wills Act 1837 (UK)
  • The Administration Act 1952
  • Family Protection Act 1955
  • Law Reform (Testamentary Promises) Act 1949
  • Trustee Act 1956


The Laws of New Zealand has a chapter on Wills.

  • Wills and Succession, by W. M. Patterson et al, Wellington, Butterworths, 1997 – (looseleaf and online by subscription)
  • Law of Family Protection and Testamentary Promises in New Zealand, 3rd ed, by W. M. Patterson. Wellington, Butterworths, 2004.
  • Trapski’s Family Law, Volume II, Family Protection and Testamentary Promises, by Pauline Tapp et al. Wellington, Brookers, 1991 – (looseleaf and online by subscription)
  • Nevill’s Law of Trusts, Wills and Administration In New Zealand, 9th ed, by Nicky Richardson, Wellington, LexisNexis (NZ), 2004

Online Resources

Many law firms offer a free will-making service as part of a package for clients, and some make this offer online. An example is Kirklands of Dunedin, and the Public Trust offers a free will-making service online, from the Wills Online link from the Public Trust home page.

Brookers Online offers a library on Wills and Estates Practice & Procedure.

Women & the Law

There are really three strands to this area of research; the study and activities of women lawyers, the study of women in general as they are affected by the justice system, and the discipline of feminist jurisprudence. The strands are often entwined in the literature.


A subject keyword search on Te Puna using: ‘women law zealand’ brings up around 50 hits of interestingly varied material; a simple keyword relevance search on the same cluster of terms turns up over 1000 hits, indicating that much material on this subject is buried in the contents of more general works. However, some works may provide useful starting points:

Without Prejudice: Women in the Law, by Gill Gatfield. Wellington, Brookers, 1996 offers an historical study of the subject.

The Law Commission has published a number of Reports and Miscellaneous Papers in the wider area of women and justice during the 1990s.

There have also been New Zealand Law Society and Judicial Seminars on gender equity and women in and/or affected by the justice system.


  • Feminist Law Bulletin New Zealand Aotearoa, Wellington, 1993 –

Online Resources

The New Zealand Law Society has a Women’s Consultative Group whose website spells out their activities and publications. The site reveals a medley of interests evenly balanced across the twin strands of this subject. There are at least five regional groups of women lawyers. There are: the Auckland Women Lawyers Association, the Wellington Women Lawyers Association, and the Women in Law Committee of the WDLS, Canterbury Women’s Legal Association, Otago Women Lawyers Society and Te Hunga Roia o Aotearoa.

The website of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs offers factual and statistical information, the most recent CEDAW Report (2002) on the Status of women in New Zealand, and a Directory of Women’s Organisations in New Zealand (2001). Among publications online are various reports, briefing papers, an archive of Panui, the Newsletter of the Ministry, papers towards an Action Plan for New Zealand Women, and information of particular interest to Maori women.