Pacific Law, Custom & Constitutionalism Series 2018-2020

Talofa, Malo e lelei, Kia orana, Fakalofa lahi atu, Taloha ni, Greetings, welcome to the Pacific Law, Custom & Constitutionalism (PLCC) Conference Series Website


Conference I: Aotearoa-New Zealand and Samoa in Dialogue, 13&14 February, 2018

(with a special ava ceremony and pre-conference session for students, 12 February, 2018)


Conference I Theme:

Samoan Traditional Leadership, Customary Land Tenure & Religious Rights




The University of Auckland’s Faculty of Law, and Faculty of Arts (specifically: Criminology Programme, and Centre for Pacific Studies, in association with AUT’s Psychology programme, Massey University’s School of Psychology, and the New Zealand Institute of Pacific Research (NZIPR) are excited to co-host the first of a three-part PLCC Conference series to be held at the Fale Pasifika, University of Auckland on the 13th & 14th of February, 2018. A special ava ceremony and preconference session between New Zealand Law Foundation sponsored keynote speakers and students (including high school students) is to be held at the same venue on the 12th of February.

We invite postgraduate students, researchers, academics, teachers, clergy, professional practitioners in government and NGO sectors, and community members who are interested in exploring Pacific law, custom and constitutionalism generally, and/or the interface between law and Samoan traditional or indigenous leadership, or law and Samoan customary or indigenous land tenure, or law, society and religious rights in Samoa specifically, to register and attend this exciting event.

PLCC Conference Series 2018-2020

The PLCC conference series focuses on promoting deeper, more nuanced, national and regional public awareness of the relationship between Pacific law, custom and constitutionalism. It encourages use of the indigenous languages of the Maori and respective Pasifika groups alongside use of the English language as the common franca lingua (language communication medium).

The conference series targets the Pasifika diaspora resident in Aotearoa New Zealand, tangata whenua of Aotearoa New Zealand, and any other New Zealanders and Pacific Islanders interested in Pacific law, custom and constitutionalism.

It offers an opportunity for the New Zealand-based Pasifika diaspora (which currently make up 7.4% of New Zealand’s total population), and other New Zealanders interested in the intersections between Pacific law, custom and constitutionalism, to directly dialogue with leading Pacific custom law experts and law professionals on a topic that directly addresses the allusiveness of that dream which was promised in the preambles of Pacific constitutions but is still yet to be fulfilled. That is, the dream, as Professor Jennifer ( puts it, “of a South Pacific jurisprudence”.

To enable sufficient time and space for proper dialogue and learning, a conference series is proposed to be run over three years, one conference per year. The first conference (Part I) is a dialogue between Aotearoa NZ and Samoa. This is to take advantage of Samoa’s recent public debates on constitutional law reform in the areas of land law, law and religion, and traditional leadership; and its relevance to Samoan and Pasifika communities in Aotearoa. Samoans make up just under half of the total New Zealand-resident Pasifika population. With the support of the New Zealand Law Foundation and other sponsors we are excited to be able to run this first conference (Part I) in February, 2018.

The second conference (Part II) will be a dialogue between Aotearoa NZ and Tonga.  Tonga was the only Pacific Island nation to not undergo formal colonisation by European imperial governments. Under its constitution Tonga retains its traditional political system but this has been subject to increasingly pressing calls for further democratisation. The Tongan diaspora in Aotearoa New Zealand are increasing in numbers and at a higher rate than any of its other Pasifika counterparts (the Tongan growth rate between 2006-2013 was 19.5% compared to next Pasifika group – the Samoans – growth rate of 9.9%). Tongans and Cook Islanders are the next largest Pasifika resident groups after the Samoans in New Zealand. This second conference will be held, funding permitting, in 2019.

The third and final conference (Part III) in this series will be a dialogue between Aotearoa and its self-governing ‘territories’ – the Cooks Islands, Tokelau and Niue. The political relationship between these three Pacific Island countries and New Zealand creates unique legal issues for them and the way in which their respective custom laws are recognised and protected in law. This third conference (Part III) is to be held in 2020. Collectively Samoans, Tongans, Cook Islanders, Niueans and Tokelauans make up over 95% of Pasifika peoples currently resident in New Zealand. This third conference will be held, funding permitting, in 2020.

2018 Conference Organising Committee