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2019 Te Rangi Hiroa Medal: Working to break glass, concrete and bamboo ceilings

Professor Edwina Pio has been awarded the Te Rangi Hiroa Medal by Royal Society Te Apārangi for her pioneering research in diversity; specifically, how the intersection of ethnicity, religion and gender impacts and is influenced by the world of work.

Professor Pio is New Zealand's first Professor of Diversity. She is Research Leader of the Immigration and Inclusion Group at Auckland University of Technology, where she is also the university's Director of Diversity. A prolific academic, she is recognised for her work and expertise on intersectional diversity and its implications for business, government, education and society. Her research on ethnic, cultural and religious diversity in Aotearoa is grounded in sustained community engagements and extensive fieldwork with migrant and indigenous communities. She is a national figure for her work in this area.

Her pioneering research innovatively weaves together the complexities of how cultural diversity and cohesion are experienced. Examples include studies on professional migrant women showing how religion informs and imbues their work and life; studying ethnic entrepreneurship among Indian women in New Zealand; experiences at work for Muslim diaspora; journeying with indigenous Māori teen mums transitioning to higher education; and joining strands of tangata whenua and the migrant diaspora through her work ‘Caste away? Unfolding the Maori-Indian’.

From an organisational viewpoint, her studies include 'Te Wero: Reimagining universities from an indigenous worldview', wairua in business schools, organisational wisdom through the ethic of kaitiakitanga and energising governance through haka and waiata.

As New Zealand becomes increasingly culturally, religiously, linguistically and ethnically heterogenous, issues of diversity have become more and more significant in our workplaces, boards, schools, tertiary institutions, and in government and administration. This new diversity, framed by the Treaty of Waitangi, urgently requires new skills, paradigms and policies. Edwina has made an important contribution to the way New Zealand understands itself in terms of its new diversity and how we can build a better workforce and society through respect, dignity and honouring difference.

On receiving this medal, Edwina says: “The award epitomises for me the supreme accolade of acceptance to a woman scholar of colour. It is a recognition of my wairua and untiring rationally compassionate nudging for creating a more sophisticated praxis to resonate with the bewitching opportunities that diversity presents.”

Professor Pio is a Fulbright alumna and a Duke of Edinburgh Fellowship recipient. She is an expert advisor for a cross-government initiative on developing an intercultural programme for the state service sector. She has judged the national race unity speech awards, served as a selection panel member for refugee scholarships and is a frequent expert commentator in the media. She is Co-director of the Global Centre for Equality and Human Rights, Fellow of the New Zealand India Research Institute and Trustee of the national Religious Diversity Centre.

She has been recognised internationally with awards from the Academy of Management and has been awarded many visiting professorships/fellowships. She was also invited to speak at a high-profile press conference in New York with congress representatives based on her work on Muslims and faith-based violence.

Te Rangi Hiroa Medal:

Social science award for excellence in social history, cultural diversity, socioeconomics or medical anthropology.


To Edwina Pio for her pioneering research that has had a significant impact on how ethnic minority migrants are (de)constructed in organisations and how religion and ethnicity are powerful entwined forces in the business and social arenas in New Zealand and internationally