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Jacinta Ruru (Raukawa, Ngāti Ranginui) MNZM, FRSNZ, was appointed as the inaugural Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Māori in March 2024.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Māori, provides strategic advice to whakamana Te Tiriti o Waitangi in the academic and research domains of the University.

Distinguished Professor Jacinta Ruru
Distinguished Professor Jacinta Ruru.




Jacinta is a proud University of Otago graduate and since 1999 has had an award-winning career based in the Faculty of Law.

Her research considers how state legal systems should reconcile with their Indigenous peoples, their laws and knowledges, and specifically considers how law and policy can be more Te Tiriti o Waitangi compliant to better enable Māori to contribute towards caring for, owning, managing and governing lands and waters. Her work has advanced options including legal personality of the environment and creating a bijural legal education. Her work includes co-authoring Discovering Indigenous Lands: The Doctrine of Discovery in the English Colonies (Oxford University Press, 2010), co-editing Ngā Kete Mātauranga: Māori Scholars at the Research Interface (Otago University Press, 2021) and leading a national project Inspiring National Indigenous Legal Education for Aotearoa New Zealand’s LLB and co-leading a national celebration of Māori authored non-fiction books Te Takarangi.

Jacinta completed her PhD in Canada and is the recipient of several significant awards for her research, supervision and teaching. In 2016, she won the Aotearoa New Zealand Prime Minister’s Supreme Award for Excellence in Tertiary Teaching and in 2017 was one of the first two Māori woman to be appointed fellow of the Royal Society Te Apārangi. She holds an inaugural Sesquicentennial Distinguished Chair at the University of Otago and has won Otago’s Distinguished Medal for Research.

She is the immediate past co-director of Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga New Zealand’s Māori Centre of Research Excellence and past recipient of Fulbright New Zealand awards. She currently holds governance positions with Te Papa Tongarewa, Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, the Environmental Defence Society and the Blue Oyster Art Project Space.

Jacinta has been appointed to many Government Departmental working groups and other entities including the NZ Law Society, NZ Law Commission, Royal Society Te Apārangi and the Waitangi Tribunal to provide research informed advice. She has presented a TEDx talk and several memorial addresses for eminent people in New Zealand, Australia and Canada. In 2024, Newcastle University in the United Kingdom will award her an Honorary Doctor of Laws. She is a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Māori and law.

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