Māmari Stephens

Mamari Stephens profile picture

Reader Faculty of Law


Teaching in 2020

Research interests

Language and law, criminal law, social security law, Māori and the NZ legal system, Māori studies


BA(Hons), MA, LLB(Hons) Victoria University of Wellington

(Te Rarawa, Ngāti Pākehā)


After some years working in the Department of Corrections and Māori broadcasting Māmari completed an MA (Distinction) in Classical Studies, BA (Hons), and an LLB (Hons) at Victoria University of Wellington. She then spent three and a half years at Russell McVeagh in Wellington working in the Māori legal team in the Corporate Advisory Group, latterly concentrating on ACC law. Māmari has been with the Faculty of Law since January 2006 and, with Assistant Professor Mary Boyce of the University of Hawai’i, run the Legal Māori Project. The outputs of this project are available free online at www.legalmaori.net. Her primary research interests are law and language, Māori and the New Zealand legal system, and social security law. She is currently working on a social security law textbook to be published by Thomson Reuters. This book is also being supported by a grant from the Law Foundation. Māmari is married to Maynard Gilgen and has two sons, Te Rangihuia, Havelund and a daughter, Jessica-Lee Ngātaiotehauauru. Her personal blog sparrowhawk/kārearea is available here.

Areas of supervision

  • Māori Land Law
  • Treaty Issues
  • Welfare Law
  • Law and Language

Current research

Māmari is currently engaged in the following research projects:

He Pounga—Māori Practical Jurisprudence Project

This project is currently under development and will investigate how tikanga Māori is being used in urban and suburgan Māori organisations to make decisions and resolve problems. This project will create better understanding of Māori frameworks for legal practice and decision-making in the modern urbanised context.

Mana Wahine: The Feminist Judgments Project

Māmari is one of a number of Māori women scholars contributing to the New Zealand Law Foundation funded project to rewrite a series of judgments from a feminist perspective. Māori women in the project are also exploring how feminism and mana wahine in Māori thought the practice intersect. The judgments will be edited and published by Hart publishing in late 2017.

Selection of publications

“Fires Still Burning? Māori Jurisprudence and Human Rights Protection in Aotearoa New Zealand” in K Gledhill and M Beddgood (eds) International Human Rights in Aotearoa New Zealand (Thomson Reuters, Wellington, 2016) forthcoming.

“To Work Out their Own Salvation: Māori Constitutionalism and the Quest for Welfare” (2015) 46(3) Victoria University of Wellington Law Review SSRN.

(with Mary Boyce) He Papakupu Reo Ture: A Dictionary of Maori Legal Terms (LexisNexis, Wellington, 2013) pp 168

“The Right to Social Security in New Zealand” in Law into Action: Implementing Economic Social and Cultural Rights in Aotearoa New Zealand (Human Rights Foundation, Wellington, 2011) pp 130-159.

More publications

SSRN author page


Teaching in 2020