Foreword - Special Edition: Legal And Social Change - Gradual Evolution or Punctuated Equilibrium?

AuthorToni Collins
PositionGuest Editor - Canterbury Law Review
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It is with great pleasure that I present the latest volume of the Canterbury
Law Review. is special edition arises out of the Austra lian and New Zealand
Law and History Society A nnual Conference held at the University of
Canterbury in 2017. e theme is captured in the title of this special edition.
It drew on evolutionary theory about how species form and questioned
whether changes in the law and in the eects of particula r laws on society
occur through a gradual process of incremental change or through periods of
relative stasis with intervening major shifts.
e volume is comprised of seven articles. Six articles stem from the
aforementioned conference. e rst is an overview of the development of
Māori land policy during the period bet ween the Native Land Act 1909 and
the Māori Aai rs Act 1953, focusing on the Māori land development policies
of Sir Āpirana Ngata. e second article looks at women who murdered their
husbands by poisoning in 19th-century colonial Austr alia and how they were
treated within the criminal justice system of the time. e third examines
the history of the New Zealand District Court, from its creation in 1858
until its closure in 1909, a period in court history that seems to have been
somewhat overlooked by legal writers until now. e fourth investigates the
commoditisation of every aspect of life in colonial Sydney. e fth article
examines eodosius I’s edict in 380 CE and the way he used t he law to dictate
the private lives of individuals to promote social unity and avoid dissention.
Last, but certainly not least, the sixth article investigates the concerns about
trial by media in 19th century Australia to determine whether juries in those
times could be trusted to ma ke decisions on the evidence before them at trial.
e seventh article is the winn ing essay from the Canterbury Law Review’s
essay competition by Robert Brew, an honours student in his fourth year at
the University of Canterbury.
To conclude, there is a book review of Magna Carta in New Zealand:
History, Politics and Law in Aotearoa (S Walker and C Jones (eds)), which is a
collection of works that deal with the lega l, political and historical signic ance
of Magna Carta in Aotearoa New Zealand. It has earned an excellent review
by Richard Boast and is described by him as an “outstanding achievement”
and “a richly rewarding experience for those who choose to read it”.
All articles went through a rigorous blind peer-review process. I wish to
thank the reviewers for their evaluations and useful comments which have
been extremely helpful to our authors.

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