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Margaret Mutu

Margaret Mutu

Activist and academic

When Margaret Mutu had just finished her degree in mathematics, a cousin asked her to come back home. Her whānau asked her help in keeping land that the council was seeking for unpaid rates. She won that fight1, and has continued battling – she is now chairperson of the Ngāti Kahu runanga executive and chief negotiator for their treaty settlements.

Mutu went on to get a Masters and PhD as well as a diploma in teaching and has taught Māori language and Treaty of Waitangi Courses at the University of Auckland since 1986. She has published four books, and carries out research on topics ranging from constitutional transformation to Māori-Chinese encounters. Mutu was awarded the Royal Society’s Pou Aronui Award in 2015 for her sustained contributions to indigenous rights and scholarship. She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2017.


1. “Margaret Mutu: They Told Me I’d Know How to Beat These Pākehā,” E-Tangata - A Māori and Pasifika Sunday magazine, December 13, 2015, https://e-tangata.co.nz/news/margaret-mutu-they-told-me-id-know-how-to-beat-these-pakeha.

This profile is part of the series 150 Women in 150 Words that celebrates women’s contributions to expanding knowledge in New Zealand, running as part of our 150th Anniversary.