Home > Issues > The Culture of a Law School > Review of Family Law Policy in New Zealand

The Black Ribbon Campaign

Empowering Men:

fighting feminist lies


Review of Family Law Policy in New Zealand

(second edition, 2002) edited by Mark Henaghan and Bill Atkin (Wellington: LexisNexis Butterworths)

© Peter Zohrab 2005

Home Page Articles about Issues 1000 links
alt.mens-rights FAQ Sex, Lies & Feminism Quotations
Male-Friendly Lawyers, Psychologists & Paralegals Email us ! Site-map



This is not meant to be a thorough or balanced review -- no doubt attempts at such a review have appeared elsewhere. This review is a brief look at some serious deficiencies and also some positive aspects of the book, from the perspective of one who doesn't have the huge advantage (in a Law School context) of being either female or Maori.

As an introduction to Family Law in New Zealand, this book fits the bill well -- as far as I can tell, being a newcomer to the field. However, I see important issues of bias, sloppiness and inappropriate political activism in it. Bias in a legal matter is a very serious matter, sloppiness is also always serious, and political activism in university courses needs to be combatted in the courts, because it nullifies all our high ideals of academic freedom (for students) and of democracy in society. Lecturers do not get paid to be activists and students do not (generally) choose to take courses because of their activist content. Students are forced to take courses in order to become qualified.


Male Subservience

It is typical of the culture of Law School, as I experienced it, that Mark Henaghan (a Law Professor) apologises for being male (page 245)! He states:

"I am also a man; I hope I can overcome that bias, but that is for the reader to assess."

There is nothing wrong with that statement, except that it would be inconceivable for a female New Zealand writer on the Law to apologise for being female in similar terms. In New Zealand legal culture, men are assumed to be in control and biased in favour of men, and so they end up being biased against their own sex. Legal women, on the other hand, just keep on pushing their own self-interests without any apologies -- except that some women, such as Pauline Tapp and Nicola Taylor, are prepared to take a reasonably objective view of issues, apparently.


Domestic Violence

According to the index, women's refuges are mentioned on four pages. Men's and fathers' groups are, according to the index, not mentioned at all. The mention of the refuges on pages 127-8 and page 132 is appropriate, in the sense that it is part of a historical account of pressures for change in domestic violence legislation. However, the wording states sexist, man-hating propaganda as fact, rather than maintaining the appropriate distance (if any exists) between the views of the authors of that chapter (Pauline Tapp and Nicola Taylor) and the views of the refuges.

On page 251, the chapter written by Mark Henaghan cites the refuges as an authority on domestic violence and conciliation. This is biased and negligent, since the women's refuges are run by a fairly random collection of variously sexist, ignorant, and unintelligent persons, with no claim to prefessionalism or objectivity whatsoever. In the Men's/Fathers' Movement, Professor Henaghan seems to have acquired the reputation of being one of the least anti-male participants in the Family Law scene. If that is truly the case, it goes to show how serious the anti-male bias in that scene is.

On the other hand, on page 78, Pauline Tapp and Nicola Taylor argue that

"as regards violence between adults, the current legislative and professional focus almost solely on male violence ignores the evidence of the origins of violence, silences the voices of children and creates an anger among those whose perception of reality is ignored."

They are to be commended for stepping aside from the Feminazi bullying and hysteria on this topic.



On page 82, Pauline Tapp and Nicola Taylor state:

"The term 'child abuse' covers several dimensions of adult behaviour towards children."

Yet, on the very next page they state:

"The issue of abuse perpetrated by siblings within a family is yet another variation."

This is an apparent self-contradiction, which is somewhat sloppy.



The chapter on "Maori Aspirations and Family Law" is activist, and therefore inappropriate in a Family Law textbook. It is one-sided, taking a pro-Maori, anti-Pakeha line. It also claims to represent all Maoris, whereas it clearly does not. It assumes that separatism is the only possible way to approach the differences between the Maori and European (and Asian, Pacific Islands, etc.) approaches to all the relevant issues.



Pauline Tapp and Nicola Taylor are dogmatic in their claim to know how best to "manage" child abuse, yet they fail to consider trends in child abuse statistics or the issue of child abuse prevention. In fact, they state that they have deliberately avoided discussing prevention, since "child abuse cannot be legislated against" (page 90).

I would argue that child abuse is linked to the breakdown in the two-parent family, which is itself linked to the introduction of no-fault divorce. I would argue that most child abuse is perpetrated by step-parents and single parents. Two parents together can manage children much better than one parent alone can, and the stepparent-stepchild bond can seldom be as strong as the bond between blood relatives, which opens the door to behaviour of all sorts that is more typical of strangers than of relatives.

So we could indeed "legislate against child-abuse", by making divorce and separation harder to get, and by creating tax incentives and other measures to make the housewife/househusband the norm that they once were. There needs to be less hypocritical legislative talk about the "best interests of the child" and more legislative action to secure those interests.




Peter Douglas Zohrab

Latest Update

27 July 2015