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Courts of New Zealand

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Landmark climate case paves way for Indigenous environmental justice in New Zealand

In a groundbreaking decision, the Supreme Court of New Zealand has handed down a landmark ruling in the case of Smith v Fonterra, brought by Māori elder Mike Smith against a group of the nation's largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters. Overturning lower court rulings, the Supreme Court has granted Smith the right to present his full case before the High Court, marking a significant advancement in climate law.
Smith, representing the Ngāpuhi and Ngāti Kahu iwi (tribes), has challenged seven corporate entities, including Fonterra, responsible for substantial greenhouse gas emissions. His claims of injury to land, water, and cultural values due to their activities have been validated by the Supreme Court's decision.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3K8JR0qOYc&t=1s


The case raises critical questions about tort liability in the context of climate change, prompting consideration of established legal principles in light of contemporary challenges. While defendants argue against the courts intervening in complex systemic issues, the Supreme Court has affirmed the judiciary's role in addressing civil obligations unless explicitly displaced by statute.
A unique aspect of the case is the incorporation of tikanga Māori, indigenous customs and practices, recognised as the "first law of New Zealand." Smith's claim not only represents his interests but also embodies his role as a kaitiaki (caretaker) acting on behalf of the land, freshwater, and sea, underpinning the significance of tikanga principles in environmental protection.
With Smith's claim reinstated, the legal battle now returns to the High Court, promising to be one of New Zealand's most closely watched private law climate cases.

https://www.courtsofnz.govt.nz/assets/cases/2024/2024-NZSC-5.pdf





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  • George Kariuki

    7 w

    This landmark case offers a glimpse of hope in the fight for climate justice and Indigenous rights.

    • Rukia Ahmed Abdi

      7 w

      Big ups to the New Zealand Supreme Court. This is a great advancement in climate law giving a warning to greenhouse gas emitters.

      4
      • Kevin

        7 w

        This is a hallmark decision by the New Zealand supreme court.Indigenous communities have finally won against notorious greenhouse gas emitters.

        3
        • Chris Ndungu

          7 w

          This monument decision by the New Zealand's Supreme Court is an important step toward sweeping environmental change. Prodigious milestone indeed!

          3
          • We Don't Have Time

            7 w

            Dear Sarah Chabane Your climate love has received over 50 agrees! We have reached out to Courts of New Zealand by email and requested a response. I will keep you updated on any progress! To reach more people and increase the chance of a response, click the Share button above to share the review on your social accounts. For every new member that joins We Don't Have Time from your network, we will plant a tree and attribute it to you! /Adam, We Don't Have Time

            2
            • Rotich Kim

              7 w

              This is amazing we need court to protect this community and any other community who fight for green energy 💪

              4
              • Patrick Kiash

                7 w

                Wow! This is among good news that many ears of indigenous communities may need to hear and achieve all over globally. As each generation needs to hand over their baton to the next generation including their land,water, medicines,animals, their culture,etc

                4
                • walter lungayi

                  7 w

                  This landmark climate case in New Zealand is a significant step towards recognizing and upholding Indigenous environmental rights. It sets a precedent for prioritizing environmental justice for Indigenous communities in the country.

                  3
                  • Gorffly mokua

                    7 w

                    This landmark decision by the Supreme Court of New Zealand is a significant step towards achieving environmental #justice for Indigenous communities.👏👏

                    9
                    • Rotich Kim

                      7 w

                      @gorffly_mokua this is true we need court to protect and encourage other countries to allow for community to fight for there climate

                      3
                    • Joseph Githinji

                      7 w

                      This is a great precedence by the New Zealand supreme court, by giving Smith a go ahead to sue nation's largest greenhouse gas emitters it will guide climate justice now and in the future.

                      11
                      • Jane Wangui

                        7 w

                        @joseph_githinji A rare case where the court has presided in a just manner.They should keep up the good work.

                        1
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