Our best heritage

It would surprise many Kiwis to learn that, though the country had its formal beginning only about 180 years ago, New Zealand adopted the body of English law, which added over a thousand years of history, to before 1066, to exiles and executions of English monarchs and subsequent centuries of resistance to rulers who repeatedly sought to assert their will over the people. Even now the legislation written then by stout patriots and intellectuals remains vigorous, the living basis of today’s work by our judges and lawyers.

The safeguards accumulated over centuries of struggle against our own rulers as they became tyrannical should be carefully guarded. Not long ago our fathers and grandfathers answered the call to repel Adolf Hitler’s violent invasions, just as Ukrainian citizens now drive back Putin’s murderous rampage. Ardern is a lesser tyrant but she too will learn that all tyrants are deposed and that decent people love the law she so easily shreds.

As long as we have scholars and citizens familiar with the principles that underpin our law they will not easily be expunged from the statute books or ignored. But we should instil these legal fundamentals in our children, for people with deep disdain for democratic freedoms are determined to wreck our world-famous stability and free thinking.

The society we enjoy began centuries before our forebears (both English and Maori) discovered New Zealand, and that history is more scientific and influential than the unstructured and unconfirmed word-of-mouth histories of Maori tribes, however beautiful and inspiring some of those myths and stories may be. We learn that the Waitangi Tribunal will not permit cross-examination of submissions for fear of causing offence, but this is abominable. As any lawyer knows, there is no better assurance of reliable testimony than robust examination.

People flock here to tour and to settle, and what draws them is not so much the entertaining colour of the remnants of Maori society and its language, though they contribute, but the dependability and prosperity of the magnificent facsimile of British society that we have built, and for which we are all responsible. Long live New Zealand.