Professor Margaret Shirley Mutu

PhD, MPhil, BSc, DipTchg


Margaret Mutu is of Ngāti Kahu, Te Rarawa, Ngāti Whātua and Scottish descent. She is the Professor of Māori Studies at the University of Auckland where she teaches and conducts research on Māori language, tikanga (law), history and traditions, rights and sovereignty, Te Tiriti o Waitangi and treaty claims against the English Crown, constitutional transformation and Māori-Chinese encounters. She holds a BSc in mathematics, an MPhil in Māori Studies, a PhD in Māori Studies specialising in linguistics and a DipTchg. She has published three books, one on the history and traditions of her hapū, Te Whānau Moana, one on the grammar of the `Ua Pou dialect of Marquesan and her most recent, The State of Māori Rights. She has also published numerous articles and book chapters and is called on frequently by local, national and international media to provide information and expert commentary.

Margaret is the chair of her iwi (nation) parliament, Te Rūnanga-ā-Iwi o Ngāti Kahu of the Far North and of two of her marae. She has been a mandated representative of Ngāti Kahu and of Māori in a number of national and international fora. She has three children, six grandchildren and a huge extended family.

Research | Current

  • Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Māori claims against the Crown
  • Māori rights, sovereignty and constitutional transformation in Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Oral traditions and histories of hapū and iwi of Ngāti Kahu, Te Rarawa and Te Hiku o te Ika (the Far North)
  • Translation studies
  • Māori resource management and conservation practices
  • Māori customary fisheries
  • The rating of Māori land
  • Māori-Chinese encounters
  • Māori and Polynesian linguistics

Margaret's immediate research interests are the settlement of Ngāti Kahu's claims against the Crown in order to provide Crown recognition of Ngāti Kahu power and authority, self-determination and ownership of all of their traditional territories and resources. This includes all Ngāti Kahu’s lands (including the foreshore and seabed), seas, waters, airways and minerals. Following the signing of an agreement in principle with the Crown in 2008, Margaret and a team of Ngāti Kahu researchers have been working on a full analysis of these claims which will be published by Ngāti Kahu as the Ngāti Kahu Deed of Partial Settlement of Claims against the English Crown in 2015.

Margaret’s work on Māori rights draws on the oral traditions of her ancestors of Ngāti Kahu, Te Rarawa and Ngāti Whātua passed on to her by her elders and drawn on extensively for the successful claims against the Crown. These rights are recognised under tikanga Māori (Māori law) and in He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tīreni (He Whakaputanga)/Declaration of Independence (1835), Te Tiriti o Waitangi (Te Tiriti) (1840) and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Her most recent publication in this area is her book The State of Māori Rights (Huia Publishers, 2011).

The oral traditions of her ancestors are very clear in respect of Māori paramount authority and power (mana) over their lands, territories and themselves. The fact that Pākehā immigrants and then the English Crown chose to ignore this in order to take control of the country’s resources has drawn increasingly strident criticism from Māori, the Waitangi Tribunal and international bodies such as the United Nations. Margaret’s recent research has drawn together her work and that of others in this area over the past 20 years for chapters in three edited volumes on the Māori history of Aotearoa, on Indigenous Nations and on Treaty of Waitangi settlements.

Margaret’s interest in constitutional transformation in New Zealand follows on from her research on Māori rights. She is working with her own hapū and hapū and iwi from around the country in this area in order to develop the foundations for a constitution for New Zealand based on tikanga Māori, He Whakaputanga, Te Tiriti and UNDRIP. This project will provide a series of papers and reports to the National Iwi Chairs’ Forum.

In the area of Māori resource management, Margaret has had a long term research interest in kaitiakitanga and a particular interest in the protection of wāhi tapu (sacred sites) from developers. Although the Resource Management Act provides protection in theory, in practice developers have still managed to destroy many wāhi tapu with devastating consequences for the hapū to whom they belong. Margaret’s research includes wāhi tapu of her own hapū as well as others in Te Taitokerau (the north) and has resulted in expert evidence provided to the courts and in book chapters.

With Professor Manying Ip, Margaret has conducted research on Māori-Chinese encounters. In particular she studied how Māori media portrayed Chinese in the 19th and 20th centuries. This resulted in a number of conference presentations and a book chapter on Māori depiction of Chinese. 

Professor Margaret Mutu's Research


Teaching | Current

MĀORI 101 Introduction to Written Māori

MĀORI 301 Reo Māori Tuhituhi

MĀORI 700 Reo Māori: Topic in Māori Language

MĀORI 732 Rangatiratanga

MĀORI 742 Kaupapa Hōu: Special Topic

Postgraduate supervision

  • Maurice Alemann: "Impact of Legislation on Māori Land in Te Taitokerau"
  • Ian Hunter: "The many faces of ai"
  • Arapera Ngaha: "Māori attitudes to non-Māori speaking the Māori language"
  • Yvonne Sutherland: "19th century letters"
  • Joe Te Rito: "The marginalisation of the indigenous peoples of the Ōmāhu area in Heretaunga"
  • Beryl Woolford: "Inter-tribal relations and land loss in the northern King Country"
  • Te Aroha Rountree: "Hokianga Whakapau Karakia – the Māori response to Christian religions in Hokianga"
  • Kepa Morgan: "Māori concepts of sustainability"


Professor Margaret Mutu's Postgraduate Supervision


  • Visiting Professor, Departments of Native American Studies, Linguistics and Anthropology, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, USA 2009
  • Visiting Professor, Postgraduate School of International Affairs, University of Le Havre, France 2007
  • Visiting Fellow, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University 2001
  • University of Auckland Distinguished Teaching Award 1994
  • Research Intern, East-West Center, Hawai'i 1984
  • Ngarimu VC and 28th Māori Battalion Postgraduate Scholar 1984
  • University Grants Committee Postgraduate Scholar 1984



  • Head of Māori Studies 2001-2007, 2009-2013
  • Chair, Te Whare Kura Indigenous Knowedges, Peoples and Identities Research Initiative Steering Committee 2009-2013, 2014 - on-going
  • Chair, Matike Mai Aotearoa Constitutional Transformation Working Party 2010 - on-going
  • Chair, Te Rūnanga-ā-Iwi o Ngāti Kahu 2002 - on-going
  • Chief Researcher and Negotiator, Ngāti Kahu Tiriti o Waitangi claims against the English Crown 1984 - on-going

Areas of expertise

Māori studies: language, oral traditions and histories; translation studies; Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the impact of English/European immigration on Māori, Māori claims against the English Crown, resource ownership, management and development; Māori and indigenous rights; Māori-Chinese encounters.

Committees/Professional groups/Services

  • Chair, Te Whare Kura: The Indigenous Knowledges, Peoples and Identities Thematic Research Initiative Steering Committee, UoA, 2009-2013, 2014 - on-going
  • Chair, Matike Mai Aotearoa Constitutional Transformation Working Party 2010 - on-going 
  • Member, Faculty of Arts Research Committee 2009-2013, 2014 - on-going
  • Member, Faculty of Arts Staffing Committee 2014 - on-going
  • Member of the editorial board of AlterNative - A Journal of Indigenous Scholarship 2009 - on-going
  • Member, Māori Knowledge and Development Panel of the Performance Based Research Fund, Tertiary Education Commission 2003, 2006-7
  • Referee for many journals and funding agencies
  • Auditor, New Zealand Vice Chancellors' Academic Audit Unit 1995 - 2012
  • Member of a number of review teams and degree evaluation panels
  • Member, Foundation for Research Science and Technology SET Advisory Committee 2006-7
  • Director, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Ltd 1991-6
  • Member, New Zealand Conservation Authority 1993-6
  • Chair, Te Rūnanga-ā-Iwi o Ngāti Kahu 2002 - on-going
  • Chair, Kapehu marae, Northern Wairoa 1993 - on-going
  • Chair, Karikari marae, Far North 2004 - on-going
  • Member, National Iwi Chairs' Forum representing Ngāt Kahu 2005 - on-going
  • Representative for Ngāti Kahu, United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues meetings 2008 - on-going
  • Chief Researcher and Negotiator for Ngāt Kahu Tiriti o Waitang claims against English Crown 1984 - on-going 


Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Mutu, M., & Jackson, M. (2016). He Whakaaro Here Whakaumu Mō Aotearoa: The Report of Matike Mai Aotearoa - The Independent Working Group on Constitutional Transformation. Auckland: National Iwi Chairs Forum and Te Wānanga o Waipapa, University of Auckland. Related URL.
  • Mutu, M. S. (2015). Unravelling colonial weaving. In P. Little, W. Nissen (Eds.) Stroppy Old Women (pp. 165-178). Auckland: Paul Little Books. Related URL.
  • Mutu, M. S. (2014). Indigenizing the University of Auckland. Canadian Journal of Native Education, 37 (1), 63-85.
  • Mutu, M. S. (2014). The Māori. In S. Neely (Ed.) Native Nations: The Survival of Fourth World Peoples (pp. 91-116). Vernon, British Columbia: JCharlton Publishing. Related URL.
  • Mutu, M. S. (2013). TV3: Think Tank: Māori Doing Business with Asia. Think Tank TV3, Series 3 (Episode 32). Related URL.
  • Mutu, M. S. (2013). 2013 Robson Lecture: Te Tiriti o Waitangi in a Future Constitution: Removing the Shackles of Colonisation. Paper presented at Robson Lecture and Napier Pilot City Trust awards, Napier, New Zealand. 22 April - 22 April 2013. Related URL.
  • Mutu, M. S. (2012). 'The Sea I Never Gave' : Fisheries Settlements. In N. R. Wheen, J. Haywood (Eds.) Treaty of Waitangi Settlements. Wellington: Bridget Williams Books with the New Zealand Law Foundation. 10.7810/9781927131381
  • Mutu, M. S. (2012). Custom Law and the Advent of New Pākehā Settlers: Tuku Whenua Allocation of Resource Use Rights. In D. Keenan (Ed.) Huia Histories of Māori: Ngā Tāhuhu Kōrero (pp. 93-108). Wellington: Huia Publishers. Related URL.


Contact details

Primary location

Level 2, Room 206
New Zealand

Web links