Assoc. Prof. Hēmi Whaanga

Hēmi Whaanga

Qualifications: PhD Waikato, MA (Applied) Waikato, PGDipSLT Waikato, BA (Te Tohu Paetahi) Waikato

Iwi: Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Mamoe, Waitaha

About Hēmi

Dr Hēmi Whaanga is an associate professor in Te Pua Wānanga ki te Ao (The Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies).  Hēmi has been involved, in various capacities as a project leader, writer and researcher, in a range of linguistic, indigenous Māori knowledge (Mātauranga Māori) and curriculum projects. He has published in the areas of Mātauranga Māori, Māori astronomy, traditional ecological knowledge, digitisation of indigenous knowledge, language revitalisation, linguistics, language teaching and curriculum development.

Papers Taught

Research Supervised


Amelia Williams – PhD Thesis (Associate Supervisor) (2020).  Title: Iwi cultural identity: The praxis of narrative.

Kalei Nuuhiwa– PhD Thesis (2020). Title: Kaulana Mahina - He ha'awina ho'omana: A Hawaiian worldview of the lunar calendar: Empowering approaches to ceremony & ritual.

Apanui Skipper – PhD Thesis (2020). Title: Te kawa tāpunapuna i ngā hau o Tāwhirimātea – The validation, revitalisation and enhancement of Māori environmental knowledge of weather and climate.

Iraia Bailey – PhD Thesis (2019). Title: Ki te kore te hāpori reo, kua tāmate kē te reo.

Tammy Hailiopua Baker– PhD Thesis  (2019).  Title: The development and function of Hana Keaka (Hawaiian Medium Theatre): A tool for storytelling, reclaiming history, language revitalization, and the empowerment of Hawaiian identity.

Ngaire Tihema – PhD Thesis (2018). Title: The teaching and learning of te reo Māori in tertiary institutions in Aotearoa / New Zealand: Beliefs, attitudes, practices and impact.

Jackie Tuaupiki - PhD (2017). Thesis title: E kore e ngaro, he takere waka nui: Te mātauranga whakatere waka me ōna take nunui.

Joeliee Seed-Pihama – PhD Thesis (2017). Title: Ko wai tō ingoa? The transformative potential of Māori naming narratives.

Tom Roa – PhD (2016). Title: An examination of the significance of inter-propositional relations in translation theory and practice with particular reference to Māori-English and English-Māori translation.

Murray Peters – PhD (2014). Title: Reclaiming the Māori language for future generations: flax root perspectives. Tīkina te mana o te reo Māori: Te pūtaketanga o te pā harakeke.

Jillian Tipene – PhD (2014). Title: Te tuhirau i rehu i ringa - Translating sacred and sensitive texts: An indigenous perspective.

Roger Lewis – PhD (2014). Title: The application of critical discourse theory to language revitalisation discourse.

Keao NeSmith – PhD (2012) - Mellon-Hawai’i Doctoral Fellow. Title: The teaching and learning of Hawaiian language and culture in public high schools and tertiary level schools in Hawai‘i: Issues relating to linguistic and cultural continuity and discontinuity.

Raukura Roa – PhD (2012). Title: Formulaic discourse patterning in mōteatea.


Leana Barribal – PhD Thesis. Title: Sea level rise impacts on inanga spawning sites and tangata whenua.

Anaha Hiini– PhD student. Thesis title: Te reo o Te Arawa.  

Petera Hudson – PhD Thesis. Title: TBA.

Jacqui Keelan– PhD student. Thesis title: Te aho tapu: The sacred thread.

Tatere MacLeod – PhD student. Thesis title: Te mita o Ngāti Kahungunu.

Bonnie Maihi – PhD Thesis. Title: Ka hao te rangatahi: Exploring education and occupational pathways for Māori rangatahi / youth growing up in Aotearoa gang spaces.

Hōri Manuirirangi – PhD Thesis. Title: Mamau.

Te Urukeiha Raharuhi - PhD student. Thesis title: Te kawa whakauru ora: Collective participation of Ngāti Hinekura in indigenous wellbeing research.

Beau Stowers – PhD Thesis. Title:  TBA.

Michael Taiapa - PhD student. Thesis title: Beyond structuralism: Reconceptualizing pedagogically-oriented descriptions of languages with a focus on te reo Māori.

Yvonne Taura – PhD Thesis. Title: TBA.

Erana Walker– PhD Thesis. Title: Kei hea te tangi a te Tūī? An exploration of kaitiakitanga in urban spaces.

Research Interests

I have worked in various areas of linguistics (including discourse analysis, te reo Māori, applied linguistics, language curriculum), and Mātauranga Māori (including traditional knowledge, traditional ecological knowledge, indigenous ethics, digitisation of indigenous knowledge, indigenous taxonomy, naming and Māori astronomy).  My main current interests concern: language, society and traditional ecological knowledge; Māori astronomy, ritual and ecological-knowledge; and the digitisation of indigenous knowledge.  The projects I am involved in aim to understand these links:

  • 'Tikanga in Technology - Indigenous Approaches to Transforming Data Ecosystems'. MBIE Endeavour funded project.
  • 'Ātea'. Spearhead for Science for Technological Innovation funded project.
  • ‘Te Tāhū o te Pātaka Whakairinga Kōrero: Next Generation Indigenous Knowledge.’ Science for Technological Innovation funded project.
  • ‘People, Cities and Nature: Restoring indigenous nature in urban environments’. MBIE Endevour funded project.
  • ‘Te Mauria Whiritoi: The sky as a cultural resource - Māori astronomy, ritual and ecological knowledge’. Marsden funded project.
  • ‘He rongo i te reo rauriki, i te reo reiuru: Whakataukī and conservation of biodiversity in Aotearoa.’ Marsden funded project.
  • ‘E koekoe te tūī, e ketekete te kākā, e kūkū te kererū: Indigenous methods of naming native and introduced bird species of Aotearoa.’ Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga funded project.
  • ‘The ethics, processes and procedures associated with the digitisation of the Pei Jones Collection.’ Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga funded project.
  • ‘Exploring a Māori classificatory system around flora and fauna within Tainui waka.’ Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga funded project.

Recent Publications

  • Whaanga, H. (2021). Indigenous identity and sovereignty in the digital sphere [Keynote]. In Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa - LIANZA Conference (Virtual).

  • Kite, S., Brown, M. L., Arista, N., Whaanga, H., & Benesiinaabandan, S. (2021). Indigenous Protocol and Artificial Intelligence (Panel presentation). In 4th Annual Symposium on the Future Imaginary Virtual Edition.

  • Whaanga, H., Harris, P., & Matamua, R. (2020). The science and practice of Māori astronomy and Matariki. NZ Science Review, 76(1-2), 13-19. Retrieved from

  • Whaanga, H. (2020). AI: a new (r)evolution or the new colonizer for Indigenous peoples?. In J. Lewis (Ed.), Position paper on Indigenous Protocol and Artificial Intelligence (pp. 34-38). Honolulu, HI: Initiative for Indigenous Futures and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR).

Find more research publications by Hēmi Whaanga


Language/Literacy/Linguistics; Linguistics; Maori; Maori Culture/Tikanga; Maori Language; Maori Language and Computing; Maori Language and Technology; Maori Research; Te Reo (Maori Language)