Fragile Foundations Book Publication

Te Herenga Waka University Press will publish FRAGILE FOUNDATIONS: The Application of English Criminal Law to crimes committed in New Zealand between 1826 and 1907, a book by David Collins, in 2024.

About the project

The arrival of Europeans in Aotearoa led to clashes between the laws and values of the new arrivals and those of Māori societies. Those clashes resembled a subduction zone between two tectonic plates; each pressing against the other and, on occasions, rupturing with long-term consequences.

This ground-breaking book examines a series of notable criminal trials in order to understand how the indiscriminate application of English criminal law in New Zealand during the 19th century shaped the landscape of modern society. These trials partially explain why Māori continue to be adversely affected by this country’s criminal justice system, and also expose the punitive way in which English criminal law was applied during the pre-colonials and colonial eras – a trait that is never far from the surface of modern New Zealand society.

Grant amount

$10,000 in 2023

About the Author & Publisher

David Collins is a Judge of the Court of Appeal, having previously served as a High Court Judge for seven years and as Solicitor-General for six years. His first book, Medical Law in New Zealand, was published by the Brooker & Friend in 1992.

Te Herenga Waka University Press, a division of Victoria University of Wellington, is a leading Aotearoa New Zealand publisher of literary and scholarly books.


Fergus Barrowman, Publisher, Te Herenga Waka University Press