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Full project title: Magna Carta New Zealand: Support for editing a book

MCNZThe New Zealand Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Commemorative Committee in 2015 used the anniversary to reflect on the past, the present and the future of the Rule of Law and rights in New Zealand. We did this by overseeing, facilitating and promoting a range of Magna Carta related events and activities that engaged a wide range of academics, political and legal figures as well as organisations and civil society. Initiatives included those within New Zealand’s Parliament, educational activities, arts and culture exhibitions, cathedral services, conferences and lectures and talks. They included a range of events, from the traditional public lectures to the lighting of an iconic building to the presentation of medieval music – events that would appeal to those with a vested interest in Magna Carta related issues and topics as well as the broader general public. In other words, this variety of events and activities helped engage a large and diverse range of New Zealanders with the anniversary in both entertaining and informative ways. Click here for a detailed list of these events and activities.

The cornerstone of the Committee’s activities was the University of Auckland Magna Carta Lecture Series in early July. Each of the 5 nights in the series looked at a particular historical, legal, cultural or rights issue in relation to Magna Carta. It gave the New Zealand public a chance to hear from high profile and informed people about these issues in an effort to highlight the importance of the document to many aspects of New Zealand life now, in the past, and in the future. 16 speakers took part in the series including Chief Justice Dane Sian Elias, Judge Carrie Wainwright, Amnesty International Director Grant Bayldon, Assistant Privacy Commissioner Joy Liddicoat, as well as New Zealand politicians Hon Judith Collins and Labour Party Leader Andrew Little. Moreover, the Committee engaged the public and media on Magna Carta, with 71% of the audience the University of Auckland Magna Carta Lecture Series attracted being from outside academia; it received positive feedback from participants and attendees and edited videos were produced and placed on the Committee’s YouTube channel . Details of the series, including videos and transcripts, are available here.

We created an extensive website which included frequently updated information about upcoming events, reviews of past events, links to information about Magna Carta related topics, resources for teaching Magna Carta in schools, as well as links to videos from the lecture series. Many of these resources have also been promoted and made available through the Committee’s Facebook and Twitter pages. The website was created and updated throughout the year and is now positioned as a valuable resource tool moving forward to help educate and inform the public on the historical, current and future significance of Magna Carta.

The high impact lecture series, wide range of other events, and breadth of media and public engagement made a valuable contribution to commonwealth celebrations of Magna Carta, especially given the committee was only created a few months before the start of the anniversary. The website will continue to hold records of the year’s programme and Committee Chairs Assocaite Professor Jennifer Lees-Marshment and Dr Stephen Winter are beginning working on a book to reflect on what was learnt during 2015.

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