Critical Race Theory and the Law in New Zealand


  • Dylan Asafo
  • Litia Tuiburelevu



CRT, Tifaga, Settler-colonial, Racism, Legal


To respond to the enduring need for a reckoning with racism in New Zealand through legal scholarship and praxis, this article grapples with the question: how can we adopt a Critical Race Theory (CRT) framework that is located within, and appropriate for, the New Zealand context? Our central thesis is that scholars and activists seeking to apply a CRT framework or conduct a CRT analysis in New Zealand should be mindful of the particular circumstances of the settler-colonising state imposed by the Crown. To assist with this mindfulness, we propose five guiding principles for CRT scholarship and praxis in New Zealand, which are all non-prescriptive and subject to critique and further development. To illustrate the usefulness of this framework, we undertake a critical reappraisal of the 1980 Tifaga v Department of Labour case. As we show, it is important to approach this case against the backdrop of the dawn raids and state-fuelled racism against Pacific peoples.


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