Fellow in Law Dr Paul McHugh has given evidence in a high-profile trial in New Zealand.

The High Court at Auckland is currently considering the case of Tame Iti, Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara, Emily Felicity Bailey and Urs Signer, who are accused of possessing illegal firearms and being members of an organised criminal group.

Dr McHugh's evidence centred on the challenge that activists and activism create for existing constitutional arrangements. Activists, he noted, often serve as instigators for constitutional change because they raise questions that existing arrangements have overlooked or excluded. The issue of the constitutional status of Maori is particularly pointed in this controversial criminal trial in New Zealand as it focuses on attitudes and responses to Maori cultures and tribal histories of activism and advocacy of constitutional accommodation. Dr McHugh’s evidence particularly noted the defendants’ skilful synthesis of traditional features of Maori culture (ritualism, symbol and metaphor) with media-savvy and highly theatricalised use of imagery.

This is an archived news story, first posted in 2012.

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