Dr Keakaokawai Varner Hemi

Keakaokawai Varner Hemi

Associate Dean Undergraduate

Qualifications: AA (Social Sciences) Citrus College, LLB (First Class Hons) Waikato PhD Waikato

About Keakaokawai Varner

Dr Keakaokawai Varner Hemi is the Associate Dean Undergraduate and Faculty Pacific Island Advisor for Te Piringa - Faculty of Law. She is also an Assistant Director of the Public Law and Policy Research Unit at Te Piringa and a member of the Māori and Indigenous Governance Centre.  She is Kanaka Maoli and part of Na ‘Ohana o Kalama from Lāʻie, Oahu, Hawaiʻi through her mother, as well as Cherokee/Tsalagi from Bohannon Mountain in Northwest Arkansas through her father.

Dr Hemi’s 2016 PhD thesis departs from the 2006 US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals case Doe v Kamehameha Schools where a Native Hawaiian school was sued for racial discrimination. The thesis traverses US constitutional law, political theory, international human rights, international and domestic indigenous rights, and New Zealand constitutional law.   Dr Hemi is currently lecturing and researching at Te Piringa in the areas of legal theory, human rights, the Treaty of Waitangi, indigenous rights, constitutional law and Pacific peoples and the law.  These interests are reflected in her recent publications, including “Closing Geographical Distances: The Value of a New Zealand Perspective on the Admission Policy of a Native Hawaiian School” (Waikato Law Review 2016), “Māori Education as Justice and Reckoning” (Yearbook of NZ Jurisprudence 2017) and “Daniels, Disability and the Human Right to Education” (NZ Law Journal 2017).

Papers Taught

Recent Publications

  • Hemi, K. V. (2017). Deconstructing indigenous rights: Aotearoa, Hawai‘i and beyond. In William H Richardson Law School, University of Hawaii.

  • Hemi, K. V. (2017). Weaving across distances: The UN declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples 2007, its legal relevance and what intentional incorporation in US federal law could mean. In Native Hawaiian Bar Association, Archives Building, Iolani Palace, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.

  • Hemi, K. V. (2017). Daniels, disability and the human right to education. New Zealand Law Journal, 404-409.

  • Hemi, K. V. (2017). Māori education as justice and reckoning. New Zealand Yearbook of Jurisprudence, 15, 79-101.

Find more research publications by Keakaokawai Varner Hemi


Human Rights; Indigenous Rights; Law; Maori Legal Issues; Pacific Issues; Pacific/Pacifica Education; Treaty of Waitangi

Legal Theory; Constitutional Law; Education Law