Supporting Independent Legal Thinking

The New Zealand Law Foundation – Te Manatū a Ture o Aotearoa – is an independent trust established in 1982 and is a registered charitable entity in terms of the Charities Act 2005. We are registered with the Charities Commission under No. CC22185 in the Charities Register.

We began funding in 1992 and have provided grants for legal research, public education on legal matters and legal training. Until mid 2020 we operated a Legal Research and General Law Grants Programme, and ran New Zealand’s premier legal scholarship programme.


Please refer to the announcement on our news page. The Foundation’s last funding round was in July 2020. No new application are being accepted now, except for the annual Cleary Memorial Prize and the Ethel Benjamin Scholarship. The Foundation is now gradually winding down as the projects on its books are completed. All approved grants and scholarships on its books at 31 July 2020 will be honoured and the Foundation will continue to function until these projects are completed.


Our Trust Deed objectives state we are to:

  • Provide opportunities for the acquisition and diffusion of legal knowledge and the consideration and suggestion of amendments to the law.
  • Carry out research in the science of jurisprudence in all its branches for the education and benefit of the public.
  • Disseminate knowledge gained by such research for the education of legal practitioners, students of law, and all other persons and organisations concerned with the application, administration, development or improvement of the law.
  • Protect and promote the interests of the public in relation to legal matters.

The Trust Deed also set out the purposes our grant funding can be applied towards. Details of these purposes can be found in the appendix to our Guidelines for Applicants.

Our Fund

The Law Foundation fund originally came from a statutory entitlement but that ended in 2008. Now our only income is the interest from the investment of our capital fund and from any donations or bequests received. The Law Foundation is determined to fund worthy legal research projects that fit our objectives and if necessary we will dip into capital to do so. This means that the more good work we do, despite careful stewardship, the harder it is to maintain our Fund. We are always looking for ways to extend the life of our Fund through joint venture funding so we can continue our good work for New Zealanders and New Zealand’s legal community. Contact Executive Director, Lynda Hagen to discuss how you can support our work through partnerships, or make a donation.

Co-funding arrangement with the Michael and Suzanne Borrin Foundation

There are now two funders of independent legal research in New Zealand – the New Zealand Law Foundation and the Borrin Foundation. We have established a collaborative relationship. This includes a commitment from the Borrin Foundation to contribute up to $150,000 in 2018 to co-funded projects with the New Zealand Law Foundation. If you believe your application to the Law Foundation is suitable for NZLF-Borrin co-funding, you should note that in your application to us and contact our Executive Director to discuss your ideas. After the Foundation goes into recess, we encourage researchers to approach the Borrin Foundation as a potential source of funding.


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