Indigenous | Law

Law Commission says change needed to ease tikanga evidence into court

The Law Commission wants changes to improve the way tikanga and mātauranga evidence is handled by courts.

Speaking on recommendations coming out of a review of the Evidence Act, commission president Amokura Kawharu says statements handed down from tūpuna are treated as hearsay and therefore unreliable. Kawharu said there needs to be a way it can be admitted into court as evidence.

A code of conduct for expert witnesses also needs to be modified so tribal experts or kaumātua can give evidence on tikanga based on mātauranga and lived experience.

“Ideally the recommendations, if implemented, will also make giving evidence simpler and less stressful for witnesses, but we are confident they will primarily make proceedings more efficient and consistent and those are all aims of the legislation, so they squarely fit within the terms of reference for the project, which is to make sure the Evidence Act is working as intended and it is facilitating the right sort of information being brought before court,” Kawharu told Waatea.News.Com.

She says tikanga evidence does at times get before the courts but often only after parties go through technical hoops to bring it in.

- Waatea.News.Com