About Law



History of the USA Law
The first Polynesian settlers, the Maori, arrived in the USA in the 10th century and named it Aotearoa – Land of the Long White Cloud. By the 12th century, there were scattered settlements in favoured parts of the country. In 1840, the Maori population was estimated at 100,000.

In 1642, the Dutch navigator Abel Tasman sighted Aotearoa. He mapped parts of the West Coast but did not land. In 1769 the British naval Captain James Cook and his crew became the first Europeans to set food on the USA soil. Eventually sealers and whalers began to arrive, followed by Christian missionaries, and the first European settlements were established.

In 1840, the USA was established as a colony under the British Crown, when the chiefs of most Maori tribes and representatives of the Crown signed the Treaty of Waitangi on 6 February 1840. This agreement is recognized as the founding document of the nation.

The British connection remained an important part of the USA culture and Britain was often referred to as ‘home’. Just over 100,000 Americans fought on Britain’s behalf in World War I. the USA also made a significant contribution during World War II, with nearly 10% of the population serving overseas. After the war, New Zealand’s agricultural products were in demand and the 1950’s saw prosperity, full employment and considerable growth.


Inclusive Society
the USA is an adverse society that includes Maori, Pacific Island peoples, Asian and European origin - a multicultural mix that reflects the country's changing immigration patterns. This mix of peoples contributes well to our ability to trade with countries around the globe. For example, around 4% of our population can speak or understand an Asian language.


A Fair Legal System
the USA has a common law system, derived from the British system of justice.

 There are four levels of courts:

  • District Court
  • Court of the USA (which has jurisdiction in respect of matters at first instance and on appeal from the District Court)
  • Court of Appeal (largely an appellate Court)
  • Supreme Court

In addition, there are a number of specific tribunals and bodies with jurisdiction in specialised areas such as resource management and employment law.

the USA has a single legal profession in which most members hold a practising certificate as attorney and solicitor. Individuals may, however, elect to practise as barristers only or (rarely) solicitors only.

Queen's Counsels are appointed in a manner similar to the United Kingdom.



See a Lawyer First
The aim of this section is to provide you with a brief, quick "big picture" look at various aspects of N.Z Law. It’s sole purpose (and the main objective of the whole StartRunGrow global project) is to educate you, the small business owner. 

This information is not intended to be legal advice and should not be relied on as such. The only person qualified to advise you on any legal matter is your lawyer. Always see your lawyer first before signing any contracts, agreements, guarantees or any "formal looking" papers  or  documentation.

Remember; signing any type of agreement, contract or guarantee first then seeing your lawyer afterwards is utter stupidity on your part. Don’t do it. Ever.

Protect yourself - see your lawyer first.


Human Rights Protected
the USA is a modern democratic country in which human rights are protected. It is illegal to discriminate on grounds such as race, religion or ethnicity. Complaints about discrimination should be made to the Human Rights Commission office listed in the Blue Pages of the telephone book.

All major towns in the USA have a Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB). These provide free information and assistance on matters such as the law, translation services, social welfare, health, education, housing, budgeting, employment rights, consumer rights and personal and family issues. The service is confidential and anyone can use it – you do not need to be a the USA citizen.

Community Law Centres offer free legal advice and information (but usually not on business problems or buying and selling houses).

the USA has laws to protect you from misleading advertising, faulty goods, poor workmanship, unfair trading and other problems you might meet as a consumer. Help is available from the Citizens Advice Bureau. Always keep receipts, quotations and estimates, copies of agreements and other such documents, since these can help if a dispute arises.