Summer Research Scholarships 2021/2022

Please find below a list of the Summer Research Scholarship projects that are available in the Faculty of Law over the 2021/2022 summer. Before applying please read the Victoria Summer Scholars Scheme conditions to ensure that you are eligible to apply.

Students will be selected on the basis of academic merit, expertise in the research area, and recommendations from staff associated with the project.

Each scholarship will have a value of $6,000, paid in four instalments.

The scholar is expected to contribute a minimum of 400 hours to the project between November/December 2021 and March 2022.

To apply for any of the following projects please apply online, noting the corresponding scholarship code.

Applications for the 2021/2022 Summer Research Scholarships will be open from 6th – 20th September 2021.

Contact Allison Kay ( for further details on the projects, or if you have any queries about the Summer Research Scholarship scheme.

Legal Professionals' Experiences of Working with Emotion and Potentially Traumatic Material

Scholarship code 800

Legal professionals, particularly those working in the criminal courts, are regularly exposed to the traumatic material of others. There is a growing awareness of the need to protect and enhance well-being in the legal profession in general, and in the criminal law in particular. This multi-disciplinary project will develop the first process model of the psychological impacts (both positive and negative) of working as a legal professional in the criminal courts, which will create an evidence base for reforms relating to legal education and well-being of the profession.

Supervisor: Yvette Tinsley

Exploring Critical Ocean Law Approaches

Scholarship code 801

In this project the student will work with Joanna Mossop to build a database of critical and theoretical approaches to ocean law (international law of the sea and New Zealand law related to the ocean) in the literature from a multidisciplinary perspective. The critical perspectives may include law, political science, philosophy, indigenous studies. The student will also prepare a summary report on one or two selected critical theories and their potential application to ocean law. A background in law and a related discipline would be helpful.

Supervisor: Joanna Mossop

Statelessness and Aotearoa New Zealand: A Mapping

Scholarship code 802

This scholarship will support research work on a mapping of the issue of statelessness in Aotearoa New Zealand. The summer scholar will identify and compile decisions dealing with statelessness from New Zealand’s immigration and refugee status determination bodies, including the Courts, as well as additional relevant scholarship, statistics, political/institutional documents and statements, and media in order to develop an annotated list/bibliography.

The broader project involves multi-disciplinary work in conjunction with a VUW colleague in the School of Political Science and International Relations.

The scholar should be a senior law student. Applications from students who have taken LAWS339 Migration and Refugee Law, INTP363 Human Rights or INTP365 The Politics of Forced Migration, or who otherwise have knowledge of citizenship, immigration and/or refugee law are particularly welcomed.

Supervisor: Marnie Lloydd

Annotated Bibliography of NZ International Legal Scholarship

Scholarship code 803

The project intends to survey New Zealand materials on international law, prepare a bibliography summarising their content and classifying them into categories, and disseminate the research via various formats. The ideal candidate will have strong research and computer skills and show a good understanding of international law.

Supervisor: Alberto Costi

Debt Collection - What Debts are Going to Collection?

(Funded by Greenwood Roche)

Scholarship code 804

We are looking for a student to do research on a project that is collecting data on debt collection practices in New Zealand. This research involves going out to businesses that send debt off to debt collectors and asking a series of questions that aim to find out information on the number of debts that go to collection, either using a debt collection agent, or that are sold to debt purchasers, and what companies are used. Information on internal debt collection practices would also be sought.

Supervisor: Victoria Stace

Intrinsic Values of Ecosystems in RMA Decisions

(Funded by the Environmental Law Initiative Trust)

Scholarship code 805

This summer scholar is contributing to a project on how "intrinsic values of ecosystems" (s 7(d) RMA) is considered in RMA decision-making. It is expected that the scholar will identify meanings of intrinsic value from environmental ethics (incl. tikanga), search RMA commissioners' written decisions on resource consents, and conduct interviews with resource management decision-makers, planners and lawyers about this topic. It may be possible to research potential meanings used in environmental laws overseas, depending on the student. It is essential that the student is already familiar with RMA decision-making. A Law background would help but is not essential; a planning or environmental science/ethics background is possible. Experience in conducting interviews would be helpful. Please address how your experience and/or knowledge would enable you to assist this project.  Any interviews for this scholarship will be approx. Sept 29-Oct 1.

Supervisor: Cathy Iorns

The future of dispute resolution? Exploring hybrid forms of consensual dispute resolution in NZ

(Funded by Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment)

Scholarship code 806

Conventional mediation may be eclipsed as the main form of consensual dispute resolution by the new form of conciliation being developed in industry, professional, and consumer complaints schemes. It has been argued that consensual dispute resolution in these regimes has proliferated, but empirical evidence is needed. It is possible that the success of these regimes has impacted upon the growth of conventional mediation. It is also possible that mediation in NZ is morphing into other forms of dispute resolution. The importance of hybrid dispute resolution approaches becomes more apparent with close analysis of NZ statutory regimes and consumer complaints processes. While conventional mediation may be struggling to establish a primary place in these regimes, close cousins of mediation such as facilitation, conciliation and investigation are being used as preferred options. Ironically, this could be due to cost, time, and formality ie mediation is seen as more expensive, time-consuming, and formal than other types of consensual third-party dispute resolution. Cost savings may make the hybrid approaches more attractive for those funding the schemes, ie government and industry. The nature of disputes under certain regimes does not lend itself to conventional mediation, for example, where the disputes are transactional or are enforcement issues rather than disputes.

This project will explore whether there is currently a structural shift occurring from using conventional mediation to using quasi-mediation approaches variously labelled as conciliation, facilitation and early intervention. The project will look at quantity, the nature of DR in different schemes, delivery method (eg, online), who is carrying out the work (and more).

The student should have the following attributes: diligence, reliability, organisational skills, independence, a strong interest in dispute resolution, and the ability to think laterally. This project will allow the scholar to engage in various aspects of research including data collection, analysis, and summarising of findings. The scholar will develop independent work habits and gain an in-depth knowledge of alternative dispute resolution. This will be of great use in legal practice or any associated career.  The scholar will also have the opportunity to work with a leading government dispute resolution organisation and the New Zealand DR community.

Supervisor: Grant Morris

Biodiversity Offsetting in New Zealand

(Funded by the Environmental Law Initiative Trust)

Scholarship code 807

Biodiversity offsets are a tool for managing the impacts of development on biodiversity. As an established component of the conservation and resource management systems, both in New Zealand and overseas, there is an abundance of guidance on how biodiversity offsetting should be done.

This project will examine how biodiversity offsetting is actually done in practice, through analysis of leading case law, resource management/conservation management consent decisions in New Zealand and existing offset projects. With a focus on targeted regions, it will compare case law and guidance with consent decision making and practice, and will develop recommendations for improvement of current practice. For this project, a Law background, and knowledge of the resource management system would be highly desirable. A planning or environmental science background would also be desirable. Experience in doing literature searches would be helpful. Please address how your experience and/or knowledge would enable you to assist this project.

Co -supervisors: Cathy Iorns / Environmental Law Initiative Trust

Legal Personhood for Nature in Common Law

(Funded by the Environmental Law Initiative Trust)

Scholarship code 808

The recognition of legal personhood for the natural world is growing across the world. In New Zealand, following on from Te Tiriti settlements, two ecosystems (Whanganui River and Te Urewera) are now recognised as legal persons in statute.

This project will investigate and analyse the grounds for legal personhood for nature in New Zealand and internationally. Project tasks will comprise collating and annotating academic articles, cases and statutes and analysing the legal arguments of relevance. For this project, a Law background, and knowledge of common law is essential. Understanding of tikanga Māori and mātauranga Māori is also desirable. Please address how your experience and/or knowledge would enable you to assist this project.

Co -supervisors: Cathy Iorns / Environmental Law Initiative Trust