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Top Māori academic researcher to join Unitec

Ngā Wai a Te Tūī, Māori and Indigenous Research Centre at Unitec is pleased to announce that Leonie Pihama will join our team as a Professor of Māori Research from 1st October 2019.

“Leonie Pihama has a distinguished reputation as an academic and kaupapa Māori researcher. She brings a

wealth of knowledge and skills that will significantly support our work to lead whānau, hapū, iwi, marae and community- driven research projects that make a difference,” Professor Jenny Lee-Morgan, Director of Ngā Wai a Te Tūī said.

Associate Professor Leonie Pihama (Te Ātiawa, Ngāti Māhanga, Ngā Māhanga a Tairi) is the former Director of Te Kotahi Research Institute, University of Waikato. She has worked on a broad range of Māori education, whānau health and well-being research projects. Associate Professor Pihama is a recipient of the Hohua Tūtengaehe Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship (Health Research Council) and was the inaugural Fulbright-Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga Scholar (2011) at the Indigenous Wellness Research Institute, University of Washington. She has served on Māori Television's establishment board and worked in film and media

production, and in late 2013, she was appointed as a Director on Te Māngai Paho Board.

"I am excited to be joining Ngā Wai a Te Tui as a Professor in Māori Research and to be working alongside Professor Jenny Lee-Morgan and the Māori researchers that are involved with the Centre,” Associate Professor Pihama said.

“Professor Lee-Morgan and I have worked together on a range of research projects and teaching in Māori Education for over 25 years and I look forward to what this new development will bring in terms of supporting the research aspirations of our people.”

Professor Jenny Lee-Morgan also acknowledged Leonie’s outstanding work and significant contribution she has made to kaupapa Māori research. “Leonie is a senior Māori researcher with deep connections to Māori communities and Indigenous research communities around the world, we feel very fortunate to have someone of her calibre to join our team.”


Marcus Williams, Director Research and Enterprise at Unitec, said Associate Professor Leonie Pihama’s appointment underscored the outstanding progress of Ngā Wai a Te Tūī with Professor Lee-Morgan’s leadership.

“The centre is one of three Strategic Research Foci which denote Unitec’s research strength areas, the others being Cybersecurity and Applied Molecular Solutions. The applied and deeply partnered nature of our research is a very important point of difference and one that resonates extremely well with the kaupapa Māori methodology. I’m thrilled that we will be joined by such a respected researcher and a powerful advocate for social change.”

Glenn Mckay, Te Tumu and Executive Director Student Success for Te Whare Wānanga o Wairaka noted the appointment’s significance given Unitec’s increased commitment to Te Noho Kotahitanga (the institute’s partnership agreement) supporting Māori Success across the institution. “While there is lots of work to do, I am increasingly positive with key appointments such as Leonie’s given her outstanding academic reputation, knowledge and skills. She will add immense value to not only Ngā Wai a Te Tūī but to the institution as a whole”.

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