Dr Tahu Kukutai

Tahu Kukutai


Qualifications: BA(Hons) MSocSc Waikato, MA PhD Stanford

Personal Website:

Iwi: Ngāti Tiipa, Ngāti Kinohaku, Te Aupōuri, Ngāti Mahanga

About Tahu

I am Professor of Demography at NIDEA and convene the research themes 'Te para one e tū mai nei: Māori and Indigenous populations' and 'Population change'. I am also Pou Matarua/Co-Director of Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, Aotearoa New Zealand’s only Māori Centre of Research Excellence.

Twitter handle: @thkukutai

Papers Taught

Research Supervised

I have taught undergraduate and honours-level papers in Population Studies and Demography and contribute to undergraduate courses in History and Indigenous studies. I provide supervision across a wide range of disciplines.

Current students:   

Moana Rarere (PhD, Demography). Māori fertility patterns and whānau formation in the 21st century (Chief supervisor).

Love Umesi (PhD, Demography). Underlying and State level contextual causes of Early childhood mortality in Nigeria (Chief supervisor).

Kyle Hefferon (PhD, Sociology). (Chief supervisor).

Previous students:

Prabin Shakya (PhD, Demography). Premarital sexual behaviour of adolescents in Nepal (Chief supervisor).

Patrick Broman (PhD, Demography). In pursuit of the ‘we’: Analysing demographic ‘New Zealandness’ (Chief supervisor).

Desi Rodriguez-Lonebear (PhD, Demography, University of Waikato; PhD, Sociology, University of Arizona). Data for sovereignty: Counting and classifying tribal identity (Chief supervisor).

Janet Amey (PhD, Demography). Health status in a population in regional New Zealand: The relative contributions of demography and primary care service delivery (Chief supervisor).

Alison Green (PhD, Māori and Pacific Development).  Mātauranga Māori in sexual and reproductive health policy in New Zealand: Lessons from a comparative policy study (Supervisor).

Mandy Yap (PhD, Economics, Australian National University). In pursuit of culturally relevant and gender-sensitive indicators of wellbeing: A Yawuru case study in operationalizing the 'recognition space' (Supervisor).

Todd Nachowitz (PhD, Political Science & Public Policy). Towards a theory of deep diversity: Immigration, multicultural policy and the Indian diaspora in New Zealand (Supervisor).

Maxine Ketu (MBA, capstone project). Whatungarongaro te tangata, toitū te whenua ki te rohe o Taumarunui. Strengthening ties between taiohi and whenua Māori in Taumarunui.

Karleen Puriri (MBA, capstone project). Opportunities for Waikato-Tainui to access and use digital data streams to progress tribal strategic priorities.

Delwyn Abraham (MBA, capstone project). An ecosystem approach to intergenerational wealth creation for Tūrangawaewae marae.

Alison Day (Masters, Demography). Projecting future dementia numbers in New Zealand.

Maraea Mullane-Ronaki (Masters, Demography). Indigenizing the national census? A global study of the enumeration of Indigenous peoples from 1985 to 2013.

Patrick Broman (Masters, Demography). Making sense of the census: Counting and classifying ethnicity in Oceania, 1965-2014.

Moana Rarere (Masters, Demography).  The determinants of tribal population growth in the New Zealand Census, 1991 - 2006.

Research Interests

Much of my research focuses on Māori demography and Indigenous data sovereignty. I have several decades of experience working with hapū and iwi, doing demographic research that meets their needs. I am also heavily involved in Indigenous data sovereignty research and advocacy. I co-edited two open access books on the topic, Indigenous data sovereignty: Toward an agenda (ANU Press) and Indigenous data sovereignty and policy (Routledge), and am a founding member of the Māori Data Sovereignty network Te Mana Raraunga and the Global Indigenous Data Alliance. I am currently co-writing/editing books on Indigenous sociology, Indigenous statistics, and the history of Tūrangawaewae marae.

I also have a long-standing interest in ethnic classification and identity and have published widely on these topics. With Professor Victor Thompson (Rider University, USA), we undertook the Ethnicity Counts? project which examines how governments around the world count and classify populations by ethnicity and citizenship status.

In addition to research and supervision, I serve on a wide range of iwi, research and government advisory groups including the Pūhoro Charitable Trust which governs the Pūhoro STEMM Academy, the Chief Science Advisor Forum, and the technical advisory for the Data Iwi Leadership Group, National Iwi Chairs Forum.

Research in progress

Tikanga in Technology (TiNT). Indigenous approaches to transforming data ecosystems. (Theme leader). Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment Endeavour Research Fund, 2020-2024.

E kore au e ngaro. A whakapapa approach to intergenerational research. (Principal Investigator). A Better Start National Science Challenge, 2020-2021.

Counting our tūpuna: Colonisation and Indigenous Survivorship in Aotearoa NZ. (Principal Investigator). Marsden Fund, 2017-2021.

Capturing the diversity dividend in Aotearoa New Zealand (Named Investigator). Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment Endeavour Research Fund, 2014-2021.

Recent Publications

  • Kukutai, T. (2022). All of our relations: Indigenous sociology and Indigenous lifeworlds. In M. Walter, T. Kukutai, A. A. Gonzales, & R. Henry (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Indigenous Sociology. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780197528778.001.0001

  • Cormack, D., & Kukutai, T. (2022). Indigenous peoples, data, and the coloniality of surveillance. In A. Hepp, J. Jarke, & L. Kramp (Eds.), New Perspectives in Critical Data Studies: The Ambivalences of Data Power (pp. 121-141). Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-96180-0

  • Kukutai, T., & Walter, M. (2022). Indigenous Data Sovereignty: Implications for Data Journalism. In L. Bounegru, & J. Gray (Eds.), The Data Journalism Handbook. Towards a Critical Data. Amsterdam University Press. doi:10.5117/9789462989511

  • Walter, M., Kukutai, T., Gonzales, A. A., & Henry, R. (Eds.) (2022). The Oxford Handbook of Indigenous Sociology. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780197528778.001.0001

Find more research publications by Tahu Kukutai


Māori and Indigenous demography; Indigenous data sovereignty; ethnic classification; whakapapa; wellbeing