Mānawatia a Matariki — Happy Māori New Year!.

Matariki and the Growing Influence of Tikanga in Employment Law

July 13th, 2023 - Barbara Buckett

Matariki, embodies Mātauranga Māori, ancestral knowledge, and wisdom. It is a time for remembrance, celebration of the present, and looking towards the future. We honour the departed, give thanks for what we have, and embrace the promise of a new year. Mātauranga Māori guides us throughout these celebrations, connecting us to our past, present, and aspirations.

This year, Matariki is well timed with the release of Chief Judge Christina Inglis’ decision in GF v Comptroller of the New Zealand Customs Service in the Christchurch Employment Court.

The central inquiry of this case revolved around whether Customs fulfilled its obligations as a fair and reasonable employer under the circumstances, as outlined in section 103A of the Employment Relations Act. While the Act does not explicitly include tikanga, Chief Justice Inglis determined that tikanga and its associated values may hold relevance.

Moreover, Chief Justice Inglis concludes that certain provisions, including section 73 of the Public Services Act, impose increased obligations of being a good employer on public service entities like Customs. Inglis CJ asserts that as part of these heightened obligations, such organisations are required to comprehend and adhere to tikanga and its associated values. Inglis CJ ultimately found that Customs did not meet these heightened good employer obligations, as they failed to comply with tikanga/tikanga values.

This landmark case represents a positive stride towards integrating tikanga within employment law. The case confirms that tikanga is a relevant consideration under the Employment Relations Act and that Te Ao Māori is part of how public service organisations operate.

Matariki serves as a meaningful reminder of the importance of tikanga and its growing influence in Aotearoa. The recent legal decision reinforces the relevance of Māori customs and values within employment law, progressing towards a more inclusive legal framework. As we embrace Matariki, we celebrate the developments made and our commitment to further incorporating tikanga into Aotearoa.

Mānawatia a Matariki — Happy Māori New Year!

Note: BuckettLaw takes no responsibility for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of our articles. Any views expressed or comments made in an article are the writers option only. The content in our articles does not constitute legal advice. If you need legal or expert advice you should obtain specific advice about your case or matter from a professional. For legal advice based on your individual situation please contact us to speak with one of our expert lawyers.

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Barbara Buckett

Barbara Buckett is a highly experienced senior employment lawyer with over 35 years of practice in New Zealand. She provides expert advice on all areas of employment law and has a proven track record of delivering excellent results for clients. Barbara has extensive experience in resolving workplace issues and is an experienced litigator. In her free time, she enjoys reading, traveling, working out, and fine wine and dining with friends.

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