12 Feb 2018

NZ university launches Pacific conference series

1:40 pm on 12 February 2018

A group of academics plan to raise awareness of Pacific law, custom and constitutionalism and how they impact Pacific people living abroad.

To do this a three part conference will be held over two years with the first instalment looking at Samoa's traditional leadership, customary land tenure and religious rights.

Up for discussion is the current parliamentary system, in which only chiefs or matai can become members.

How Samoans can engage in supporting ways to protect customary lands is also on the agenda.

It's hoped the conference will also create public awareness of how becoming a Christian state based on the holy trinity is problematic for Samoa's other Christian denominations.

The University of Auckland's Tamasailau Suaalii-Sauni is one of six in the conference organising committee.

Dr Suaalii-Sauni said it would help to inform New Zealand's Pacific community on the various issues that affect them and their families.

"I want to be able to help our people, who are trying to fight for things like the customary land issue. How do we engage in being able to support things that can protect our customary land? How do we get ourselves on the same page with all the various debates that are going around the legal issues, cultural issues, political issues," she said.

Part one of the Pacific Law, Custom and Constitutionalism Conference series is on February 13 and 14 at the University of Auckland.

If funding is secured, the second part will be a dialogue between Aotearoa New Zealand and Tonga scheduled for 2019, with New Zealand's relationship with the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau examined in 2020.