Professor David Tipene-Leach (Ngāti Kere, Ngāti Kahungunu)

Professor David Tipene-Leach has always understood the positive difference being a doctor can make within and for the Māori community. He has been a general practitioner in many (mostly rural) Māori communities and an academic, public health physician and researcher at a range of tertiary institutions. 

In 2006, a leading piece of work began in Gisborne with the ‘wahakura’ initiative. It launched baby bassinets made of harakeke as a safer bed-share sleeping option and has produced a 30% reduction in infant mortality over the last six years. This mission has been shared with his academic and life-partner, Dr Sally Abel.

In his appointment as Professor at the Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT), he continues to develop the wahakura programme and to work with Māori health initiatives such Te Kūwatawata in Gisborne and the treatment of pre-diabetes by practice nurses. In the 2018 New Year’s honours list, Professor Tipene-Leach was awarded a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for Services to Māori and Health.



Professor Jacinta Ruru (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Maniapoto)

Jacinta Ruru began teaching in the Faculty of Law, University of Otago in 1999 and later completed her PhD at the University of Victoria in Canada. She is an alumni of Fulbright Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga which has enabled research connections in the United States. In 2016 she was promoted to Professor and became Co-Director of Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga New Zealand’s Māori Centre of Research Excellence.

Her research interests are focused on the legal, political and cultural interests of Indigenous peoples around land, water, indigeneity and Indigenous sovereignty. Professor Ruru has published widely on a variety of topics, including Indigenous ownership and management, foreshore and seabed issues and freshwater management. Professor Ruru has over 100 publications and co-edited ‘Beyond the scene: Landscape and identity in Aotearoa NZ’ in 2010.

In 2016, Professor Ruru was awarded New Zealand’s top national award for tertiary educators, the Prime Minister’s Supreme Award for Tertiary Teaching. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society Te Apārangi.

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