The New Zealand Electronic Text Centre is proud to announce the launch of the Legal Māori Archive, a collection of more than 14,000 pages of around 250 19th century documents that illustrate the bi-lingual nature of New Zealand's legal history.
The Legal Māori Archive is freely available to the public and can be accessed via the NZETC website.
Among the many documents featured in this collection are the following:
The Archive has been created in conjunction with Mamari Stephens from the Victoria University of Wellington's School of Law as part of a project to establish a corpus of legal Māori documents, which will allow the analysis of the language and eventually a dictionary of legal Māori terms and concepts.
It is the first time the documents have been brought together in one place and is the largest collection of separate documents that the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre has digitised.
The Legal Māori Project seeks to resource speakers of te reo Māori who may not currently have access to a shared vocabulary to describe Western legal concepts. This Project will collate, develop and make available the terminology from Legal Māori texts, including those from the Legal Māori Archive, to all speakers and learners of te reo Māori and all researchers
The Legal Māori Archive has been made possible by funding from the Victoria University of Wellington Library Contestable Fund and the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, and is informed by a Reference Group which includes prominent academics, experts in te reo Māori, linguists and judges.
The Dean of Victoria's Law School, Professor Tony Smith, says of the project: "This work is of importance to New Zealand, to Māori and the University. Its potential impact is great – it will, in short, allow a Māori voice in a legal context in a way never before possible."
"This first milestone along the way is something to celebrate."