Public law

Located at the centre of New Zealand political life, we are proud of our long history as the country's pre-eminent place to study and research public law.

In the most recent Performance-Based Research Fund evaluation, our Faculty of Law had the highest proportion of world-class legal researchers in New Zealand. It is also frequently ranked in the top 50 in the QS World University Rankings by Subject.

Our Faculty of Law occupies the historic Old Government Buildings, opposite the New Zealand parliament and adjacent to the Supreme Court and other legal institutions.

It is a unique hub of analysis, debate and dialogue led by a community of scholars at the forefront of research into such areas as:

  • New Zealand Bill of Rights Act
  • Constitutional theory and history
  • Treaty of Waitangi and Māori constitutional traditions
  • Legislative design and parliamentary process
  • Anglo-Commonwealth administrative law
  • Local government and democracy
  • International organisations

Leading thinkers

Victoria University of Wellington is home to the New Zealand Centre for Public Law, with Associate Professor Joel Colón-Rios as Director, and Dr Guy Fiti Sinclair as Associate Director.

As well as Associate Professor Colón-Rios and Dr Sinclair, our public law programme includes leading experts and thinkers such as Professor Richard BoastProfessor Petra ButlerDr Eddie Clark, our Chair in Public Law Professor Claudia Geiringer,  Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Law  Professor Mark HickfordDr Carwyn Jones, Associate Professor Dean KnightProfessor Geoff McLay, and Associate Professor Māmari Stephens.

They engage and share their knowledge with ministers, parliamentarians, judges, civil servants, and others—both in New Zealand and internationally—and are active voices in the global community of scholars of public law.

The Faculty regularly hosts visiting academics and legal and political figures from around the world. Our recent visitors have included the Honourable John G. Roberts, Jr., Chief Justice of the United States, Justice Sheilah Martin from the Canadian Supreme Court, Professor Martha Nussbaum from Harvard University, and Professor Martti Koskenniemi from the University of Helsinki, among others.

Public law stories

New Treaty, New Tradition

Dr Carwyn Jones' new book examines how land claim resolutions have affected Māori law, and self-determination is exercised in a postcolonial world.

Making modern states

A new book written by Victoria University of Wellington lecturer Dr Guy Fiti Sinclair examines the role international organisations play in creating new states.