Richard Boast QC

Prof Richard Boast profile picture

Professor Faculty of Law


Teaching in 2020


MA Waik, LLM Well

OMNZ, Queen's Counsel

Barrister and Solicitor, New Zealand


Richard is a specialist in legal history, Maori land law, and property law. He teaches in these subjects and has has also taught or co-taught postgraduate courses on New Zealand legal history, law and anthropology, and the origins of indigenous people's law in the Spanish colonial empire. He has considerable experience in private practice and has appeared before the Maori Land Court and the Waitangi Tribunal on many occasions both as counsel and as an expert historical witness. He has published many books and articles on legal history, Maori land law, property law, and natural resources law. In 2009 his book Buying the Land, Selling the Land, which dealt with Maori land, the Native Land Court and the government from 1865-1920 was awarded the Montana Book award for history. He is currently involved in a large-scale project of publishing a critical edition of leading judgments of the Native/Maori Land Court, Vol 1 of which was published in 2013 (1862-1886) and Vol 2 in 2015 (1887-1909). Vol 1 was the co-winner of an award for the best law book published in its year. Vol 3, taking the history of the Court to 1953, is now in preparation and is scheduled for publication in 2017. These books have become a standard resource and are routinely cited in the Courts.

Other works written, or co-written, by Richard include Foreshore and Seabed (2004) and New Zealand's two principal textbooks on legal history and Maori land law. In 2009 he co-edited and contributed to a book of essays on confiscation of Maori land in New Zealand. In 2015 Richard was appointed as a Queen's Counsel in recognition of his contributions to New Zealand legal-historical scholarship.

Richard has written over 30 research reports for the Waitangi Tribunal process and has been involved as an expert historian in a number of settlement negotiations involving iwi and the Crown. He has represented many iwi groups in the Waitangi Tribunal, and has given many special submissions to the Tribunal on particular issues, including the law relating to the foreshore and seabed, Crown purchasing of Maori land, and the Native Land Court. In 2015, as part of the celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the Maori Land Court, Richard was invited to present a submission on the history of the Court to a special commemorative sitting of the Court at Whanganui. In 2009 he was a member of a panel established by the Attorney-General to review the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004.

Areas of supervision

Current research

In 2012 Richard was awarded a grant by the Marsden fund administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand to study comparative tenurial changes in and around the Pacific. A number of chapters and articles have now been published based on the research carried out for this project. Richard has a particular interest on the parallels and differences between the legal history of New Zealand and other countries, including Hawai'i, Australia and various Latin American countries, and has given a number of seminar and conference papers on this topic in New Zealand and overseas (including Australia, Uruguay, Tahiti, Germany, and Indonesia). Richard is also completing vol III of his work on the Maori Land Court, and is commencing preparation of a new book examining the effects of confiscation and the Native Land Court on a Hawke's Bay iwi. He is also forms part of authorial teams involved in the preparation of a new books on Maori organisations and Maori land law.



Teaching in 2020