The AUT Centre for Indigenous Rights and Law has been established to highlight the importance of the indigenous presence and indigenous issues throughout New Zealand and the Asia Pacific. It members include prominent and emerging indigenous scholars who are dedicated to indigenous studies and human rights.


The Centre's goal is to ensure that appropriate prominence is given to indigenous rights and law in Aotearoa New Zealand, across the Asia Pacific region and beyond. The Centre seeks to extend knowledge of customary legal regimes and their validity within state legal systems by encouraging academic exchanges and research. The specific objectives of the Centre are as follows:
  • to facilitate scholarship relating to indigenous rights and law
  • to host or participate in conferences and seminars on issues of indigenous rights and law
  • to establish academic links with local and overseas institutions interested in indigenous rights and law, and human rights more generally
  • to teach indigenous rights and law courses at undergraduate and postgraduate level, including interdisciplinary courses, and
  • to publish a Journal of Indigenous Rights and Law.

Research Foci

The overall research focus will be the rights of indigenous people and the law relating to their position in international human rights law and domestic law. There will be a particular focus on the South Pacific, but we aim to include the Pacific Rim and to look farther afield in the Americas and Africa. The Centre will aim to develop significant transnational links, both enhancing and exporting New Zealand expertise in the area. These links will contribute to the academic and policy environment across the region.

  • Within this overall focus, there are numerous more specific issues, ranging from the wider socio-legal, political and policy matters to discrete legal issues. Examples include:
  • How law and policy have contributed to disadvantage and discrimination against indigenous peoples
  • Analyses of reforms required to better achieve sovereignty, self-determination, reconciliation and equality
  • Review of international legal regimes and law on domestic law and policy
  • Consideration of statutory governance bodies
  • Indigenous  management of natural resources
  • State-Indigenous co-management  regimes
  • The role of customary law
  • Traditional knowledge
  • Land and water use rights
  • Water rights
  • Indigenous conceptions of criminal law and justice, including methodologies to tackle the over-representation of indigenous people in the criminal justice system.
  • To establish a post-graduate and undergraduate programme within the Faculty of Business, Economics and Law.