© 2017

Magna Carta and New Zealand

History, Politics and Law in Aotearoa

  • Stephen Winter
  • Chris Jones
  • Explores the social, political and legal impact of Magna Carta on New Zealand’s history

  • Examines the reception of it by both Maori and non-Maori and its role in constitutional debates

  • Offers a unique perspective on Magna Carta's relation to constitutional theory and practice


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. Introduction

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
  3. Remembrance

  4. Reception

  5. Reflection

  6. Conclusion

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 253-253
    2. Stephen Winter, Chris Jones
      Pages 255-263
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 265-288

About this book


This volume is the first to explore the vibrant history of Magna Carta in Aotearoa New Zealand’s legal, political and popular culture. Readers will benefit from in-depth analyses of the Charter’s reception along with explorations of its roles in regard to larger constitutional themes.

The common thread that binds the collection together is its exploration of what the adoption of a medieval charter as part of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements has meant – and might mean – for a Pacific nation whose identity remains in flux. The contributions to this volume are grouped around three topics: remembrance and memorialization of Magna Carta; the reception of the Charter by both Māori and non-Māori between 1840 and 2015; and reflection on the roles that the Charter may yet play in future constitutional debate. This collection provides evidence of the enduring attraction of Magna Carta, and its importance as a platform of constitutional aspiration.



'Rule of Law' Constitutionalism Māori Democracy Treaty of Waitangi

Editors and affiliations

  • Stephen Winter
    • 1
  • Chris Jones
    • 2
  1. 1.University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  2. 2.University of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand

About the editors

Stephen Winter is Senior Lecturer in Political Theory at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. In 2015, he served as Deputy Chair of New Zealand’s Magna Carta 800 Commemorative Committee.

Chris Jones, is Senior Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. His research explores the history of political thought in the later Middle Ages. He has also published on the legacy of medieval and Early Modern Europe in New Zealand.

Bibliographic information


“Why does it matter to us in New Zealand what happened at Runnymede 800 years ago? This book is essential reading for those who want to know. The mythology that has grown around Magna Carta obscures its achievements and the influence it continues to exert. Its example is invoked in our own great Charter, the Treaty of Waitangi. This account of the continuing pull of Magna Carta in our society stimulates thinking about what matters.” (The Rt Hon Dame Sian Elias GNZM, Chief Justice of New Zealand)

“This collection from New Zealand scholars analysing the significance of Magna Carta more than 800 years after it came into being enriches our own sense of New Zealand’s constitutional history and suggests a need to take greater interest in our contemporary constitutional arrangements.” (The Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Palmer KCMG AC QC, former Prime Minister)