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Sir Ian Hugh Kawharu papers.

Identifier: MSS-Archives-2015/08

Scope and Contents

The papers of Sir Hugh Kawharu were transferred by the Hugh Kawharu Whānau Trust to Special Collections in May 2008. The material was initially listed at item and box level by Anahera Morehu. From this listing an artificial series structure was created to give the collection structure and to aid researchers in searching for particular material. As the files were to be rehoused in archival folders further description was added and in some cases, new file titles as well.

There are 12 series and 8 subseries in this collection, all of which reflect much of Kawharu's academic and public life. Most of the papers date from the 1950s with the exception of one folder dated 1920-1921 from the Personal papers series. but there is aKawharu took on a variety of roles and activities during his career and as a result there is some overlap between different series. They are arranged as follows:

1. Articles, presentations and reviews.

2. Research resources.

3. Oxford University Press papers.

4. Conference and seminar papers.

5. Massey University papers.

6. University of Auckland papers.

7. Bastion Point papers.

8. Ngāti Whātua Board papers.

9. Maori Land Court and Waitangi Tribunal papers. 9/1. Claims

10. Committee, council, board and project papers. 10/1. Auckland Institute and Museum. 10/2. Crimes Consultative Committee. 10/3. Board of Maori Affairs. 10/4. Auckland City and Auckland Regional Committees. 10/5. Te Runanga Matua: Ministerial Committee on Maori Education. 10/6. Whakakotahi hui (Maori Congress). 10/7. New Zealand Maori Council.

11. Correspondence.

12. Personal papers.


  • 1920 - 2006


Conditions Governing Access

PARTLY RESTRICTED. Records restricted for reasons of privacy and confidentiality are noted in the finding aid. Access to restricted files requires the permission of the Special Collections Manager.

Biographical Note

Ian Hugh Kawharu was born in Ashburton in 1927 and throughout his life took on many roles such as academic, professor, author, researcher, statesman and leader of the Ngāti Whātua iwitribe. He has been described as rangatira to all New Zealanders.

His education began at Auckland Grammar before he completed a BSc at the University of New Zealand (Victoria University, Wellington) in geology and physics. He then went on to gain his Master’s degree in anthropology at the University of Cambridge before completing a Master of Literature and Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Oxford.

In 1970 he became the inaugural Professor of Anthropology and Maori Studies at Massey University in Palmerston North. He left Massey in 1984 and moved on to the University of Auckland to take up the role of Professor of Maori Studies and Head of the Department of Anthropology. During his time there he presided over the establishment of Waipapa marae and the carving and decoration of the meeting house, Tanenuiarangi. He also also helped to set up the James Henare Research Centre and became its first Director. He presided over the separation of Maori Studies from Anthropology in 1992. Sir Hugh left the university in 1993 and was made Emeritus Professor the same year.

Sir Hugh was an active and well respected academic who produced a large body of work. He undertook research in areas such as Maori welfare, customary title and the Treaty of Waitangi.

He also contributed to a large number of communities outside of the university. He was a member of the Royal Commission on the Courts, the Waitangi Tribunal, Board of Maori Affairs, Council of the Auckland Institute and Museum and Museum Trust Board, elected President of the Polynesian Society, consultant for UNESCO, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN, the New Zealand Council for Educational Research and the New Zealand Maori Council.

Sir Hugh's many contributions to the public did not go unnoticed and in 1989 he was awarded with a knighthood and in 1992 with the Eldson Best Medal by the Polynesian Society. He was made Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, honorary fellow of Exeter College and Patron of the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford University. In 2002 he became a member of the Order of New Zealand and in 2005 received Auckland City's Distinguished Citizen Award.

Sir Hugh died in 2006. He was aged 79 and was survived by his five daughters Margaret, Evelyn, Lindy, Merata and Amokura.


Durie, M. (2006). Sir (Ian) Hugh Kawharu, obituary in 2007 Academy Yearbook. Retrieved from

Ihaka, J. (2006). Ngati Whatua leader dies. New Zealand Herald, Sep 19, 2006. Retrieved from


9.5 metres (19 cartons)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Collection donated to Special Collections by the Hugh Kawharu Whanau Trust in May 2008.

Inventory of the papers of Sir Ian Hugh Kawharu, 1920-2006.
Leah Johnston
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections, University of Auckland Repository

5 Alfred Street
Private Bag 92019
Auckland 1142 New Zealand