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!