University of Canterbury appoints Victoria University of Wellington professor as dean of law

Petra Butler was previously acting dean and interim school head for Te Herenga Waka's law faculty

University of Canterbury appoints Victoria University of Wellington professor as dean of law

The University of Canterbury (Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha) has appointed Professor Petra Butler from Victoria University of Wellington (Te Herenga Waka) to the position of executive dean of law (Amo Matua).

She assumes her new role on 5 February 2024.

Butler brings over 20 years of experience in academia and law reform work. As per Kate Sheppard Chambers, of which she is a member, Butler is a fully qualified German lawyer and a New Zealand-qualified barrister.

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She is the director of the Institute of Small and Micro-States and a fellow of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law. She also developed a research profile in human rights and commercial contract law, which expanded to include a focus on the Indo-Pacific region according to the Victoria University of Wellington.

From 2021 to 2022, Professor Butler served as acting dean and interim head of school for the faculty of law at Victoria University of Wellington. In these positions, she led the faculty through the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, structural change and the occupation of the law school.

She was also involved in establishing Te Komiti, an advisory committee within the faculty to support Māori and Pasifika staff. Moreover, she assisted in the introduction of a Rainbow Student Advisor position.

Butler’s international teaching experience spans five continents. She has developed relationships and collaborations with governments, international law firms, and diplomatic missions that generate opportunities for international and domestic students.

She recently served as associate dean of academic programmes at Victoria University of Wellington, where she contributed to developing interdisciplinary teaching programmes and helped extend pathways for international students to study at Te Herenga Waka.

Hai-Yuean Tualima, a senior lecturer at the Victoria University of Wellington’s faculty of law, highlighted Butler’s work with Pacific students.

“[Butler is] always willing to help and support Pacific students in their law studies and prospective careers. Last year, she was instrumental in facilitating an international internship with a focus on international trade for Pacific students with Sidley Austin in Geneva,” Tualima said in Victoria University of Wellington’s press release.

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