Ngahuia te Awekotuku, the 2017 winner of the Royal Society’s Pou Aronui Award, completed a Masters in Arts in 1974 with a thesis on Janet Frame. In 1981, she became the first Māori woman to earn a doctorate from a New Zealand university, with a PhD on the effects of tourism on the Te Arawa people.
As a curator of ethnology at Waikato Museum in the 1980s, te Awekotuku was among the first to insist that museums rethink how they represent Māori culture, in New Zealand and overseas. She developed and taught the first tertiary sector Māori and Pacific Art History programme from undergraduate to doctoral level and in 1996 became this country’s first Māori women professor. Te Awekotuku has done extensive research on the moko – resulting in a multiple award-winning book – and has also researched the Māori way of death.