Legal personality in Aotearoa New Zealand: an example of integrated thinking on sustainable development

Mereana Barrett, Krushil Watene, Patty McNicholas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Purpose: This paper aims to set the scene for an emerging conversation on the Rights of Nature as articulated by a philosophy of law called Earth Jurisprudence, which privileges the whole Earth community over the profit-driven structures of the existing legal and economic systems. Design/methodology/approach: The study used a wide range of thought from literature relating to philosophy, humanities, environmental economics, sustainable development, indigenous rights and legal theory to show how Earth Jurisprudence resonates with two recent treaties of Waitangi settlements in Aotearoa New Zealand that recognise the Rights of Nature. Findings: Indigenous philosophies have become highly relevant to sustainable and equitable development. They have provided an increasingly prominent approach in advancing social, economic, environmental and cultural development around the world. In Aotearoa New Zealand, Maori philosophies ground the naming of the Te Urewera National Park and the Whanganui River as legal entities with rights. Practical implications: Recognition of the Rights of Nature in Aotearoa New Zealand necessitates a radical re-thinking by accounting researchers, practitioners and educators towards a more ecocentric view of the environment, given the transformation of environmental law and our responsibilities towards sustainable development. Originality/value: This relates to the application of Earth Jurisprudence legal theory as an alternative approach towards thinking about integrated reporting and sustainable development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1705-1730
Number of pages26
JournalAccounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Earth jurisprudence
  • Indigenous peoples
  • Rights of nature
  • Sustainable development

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