The English Laws Act 1858 was passed to clarify the status of English law in New Zealand. In colonies that had only a British settler population, English law was deemed to be in force from the inception of the colony, but in colonies with an indigenous population with its own practices it was not. The English Laws Act stipulated that all English law as of 14 January 1840 (the date William Hobson was sworn in as the colony's first lieutenant-governor) were deemed to be in force in New Zealand, where applicable to New Zealand circumstances.
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Reference: New Zealand Statutes, 1858, pp. 5
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