Abstract

This research paper examines the philosophy of justice embodied in tikanga Mãori, the Mãori traditional mechanism and approach to doing justice. Based on several months of fieldwork in New Zealand, this study contends that the Mãori approach to justice adopts a holistic and relational lens, which requires that justice be seen in the context of relationships and crimes dealt with in terms of the relationships they have affected. As a result, justice must be carried out within the community and the process owned by community members. Further discussion draws attention to the response of Mãori communities to the New Zealand government’s attempt to accommodate their traditions and warns against the global tendency to render traditional Indigenous approaches to justice ahistorical through their representation as restorative justice mechanisms.

Acknowledgments

The author would like to acknowledge funding from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, as well as thank all the persons who have accepted to answer questions and share the Mãori culture with the author during the summer of 2010.

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