LAWPUBL 732 - Special Topic: Comparative Indigenous Rights Law

Lecturer bio

Dr Andrew Erueti is of Ngati Ruanui and Nga Ruahine in Taranaki and is an Associate Professor in law at University of Auckland, where he teaches and writes in the areas of international human rights and issues concerning indigenous peoples. Dr Erueti is a graduate of the Universities of Canterbury, Victoria and Toronto (PhD).  He is the former adviser on indigenous rights to Amnesty International and in that capacity worked on numerous indigenous rights projects and campaigns in the Americas and Asia. In New Zealand, Andrew has worked as an advocate on Treaty issues in the Waitangi Tribunal and Maori Land Court. His PhD is on the drafting of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Dr Claire Charters is of Ngati Whakaue, Nga Puhi, Tuwharetoa and Tainui descent and currently Associate Professor in law at the University of Auckland. A graduate of Otago University, New York University and University of Cambridge, Claire practised briefly before beginning an academic career with a focus on the rights of Indigenous peoples under international and comparative constitutional law. Claire also worked for 3 years at the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the Indigenous Peoples and Minorities Section. She has acted for iwi and international indigenous organisations on occasion. 

Course outline and syllabus

The course will introduce students to international and comparative law and policy relevant to Indigenous peoples.

Beginning with an examination of the United Nations system as it relates to Indigenous peoples we will then analyse the ground-breaking jurisprudence of the Inter-American and African regional human rights systems.   Moving to comparative jurisdictions, we will examine other common law countries and examples from Asia and Northern Europe with respect to their laws and policies relevant to Indigenous peoples.

The course will follow to some extent S James Anaya Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights (Wolters Kluwer, 2009) before moving to selected materials with respect to each topic under discussion. The materials can be found online on Canvas.


The chief objective of the course is to provide students with an introduction to international and comparative law and policy relevant to Indigenous peoples.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course students should be able to:

  • Understand the international legal system’s mechanisms for the recognition and protection of Indigenous peoples’ rights
  • Appreciate conceptual tensions underlying Indigenous peoples’ rights in international law and policy
  • Understand the basics of relevant regional human rights systems to the extent that they have legally recognised Indigenous peoples’ rights
  • Recognise and understand the main principles of selected comparative law and policy on Indigenous peoples
  • Identify and understand the content of  the key laws, jurisprudence and policies applied in the jurisdictions studied
  • Comment critically on the law and policy relevant to Indigenous peoples


90% research essay of 12,500 words and 10% class participation and presentation.


Each student is required to submit a research essay of no more than 12,500 words including an abstract/synopsis of 500 words. The essay is to be original work, relying on secondary and primary sources. It MUST be the work of the enrolled student. Another person, other than the enrolled student, MUST NOT write the essay nor do the research on behalf of the enrolled student. Plagiarism is not permitted and in that regard each student should read the University’s plagiarism policy and adhere to it. All students will be expected to sign a plagiarism declaration when submitting their essays. Students must also use proper legal citations and include a reading list at the end of their type-written essay. The essay should be comprised of properly crafted English sentences. (Note form is unacceptable.) The use of sub-headings is encouraged and footnotes rather than Harvard style in-text referencing are to be used.

Descriptive essays are not encouraged. Instead students are expected to engage with relevant legal issues by: critiquing the law; developing proposals for reform; examining the operation of law and policy in practice; and/or providing a conceptual analysis of the law, for example.

Essays must be submitted to the Faculty of Law, by 9 November 2017.

Extensions must be requested formally through the Postgraduate Manager.

Class participation/presentation

Each student will be asked to prepare a brief (15 minute) answer to one of the focus questions in the Learning Guide and present this to the rest of the class. In addition, each student is expected to make individual contributions to seminar discussions throughout the course. Students will be individually assessed on the quality of their contributions.

Criteria and marking

Students will be individually assessed on the quality of their contributions with reference to the following criteria:

  • The extent to which the student has identified the important and relevant issues
  • The clarity of argument
  • The depth and thoroughness of understanding of the seminar material
  • The strength and clarity of the arguments presented
  • The overall lucidity of the contribution
  • The extent to which issues are placed in their wider context
  • The extent to which the student has displayed a grasp of the doctrinal and normative issues
  • The analysis and synthesis of material
  • The ability to draw worthwhile conclusions

Class participation will assessed over the whole  5 days of the course. Quality rather than quantity will be assessed but clearly if a student is not present for all the classes, it will be impossible to achieve the maximum marks possible even if a student’s contributions are brilliant when he/she does speak. Students are reminded that the full range of marks is available to the lecturer in assessing class participation. Please be assured that the lecturer is very aware that mistakes are part of learning. Accordingly, ‘getting the law right’ is not the key focus of the class participation component of assessment. If students knew all the law from the outset, there would be little point in them enrolling in the course. Rather, class participation is included to extend students and to assess students’ imaginative understanding of, and engagement with, the materials under discussion. It is not meant to be threatening.

Reading materials

Reading materials will available on canvas.  Many readings come from S James Anaya Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights (Wolters Kluwer, 2009), which can purchased on or is available on shortloan at both the Law School and General Library.  Students may also be asked to access additional materials via the internet or in the library.

Teaching method

The course will be taught over five days. Classes will be interactive and hopefully, very friendly. It will, however, be necessary for students to do the pre-reading for the course so that they get the most out of the materials under discussion.

Classes will commence at 9am and run till 5pm. Morning tea will be around 10.30am (approx. 20 minutes) and lunch at 12.30. We will also have a short break in the afternoon.

Course details

Semester Two
Study mode Intensive
Dates 23 - 29 August
Time 9am - 5pm
Location Room 340, Building 810
Value 30 points

Contact details

Law Student Centre

Level 7, 1-11 Short St

Lecturer contact details: