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BA (Wellington) LLB and LLB (Otago) PhD (Victoria/Canada)

Tēnā koe. Ko Raukawa, Ngāti Ranginui me Ngāti Maniapoto ngā iwi. Ko Pākehā hoki ahau. He roia kaiwhakaako ahau ki te Whare Wānanga o Otāgo.

Contact details

Tel +64 3 479 8833
Office 8th Floor - 8N11


  • Jacinta currently teaches into the Laws 101 programme and is building a thriving Indigenous law post-graduate programme
  • Jacinta holds a University of Otago Inaugural Sesquicentennial Distinguished Chair

Research interests

  • Tikanga Māori and Indigenous laws
  • Indigenous Peoples' legal rights, interests and responsibilities to care for, own, govern and manage lands (including national parks) and waterbodies
  • Māori land law including Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993
  • Te Tiriti o Waitangi / Treaty of Waitangi and United Nation's Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • Decolonisation of New Zealand's research sector and legal education

Jacinta is a member of:


Jacinta joined the Faculty of Law in 1999. In 2019, she was awarded an inaugural University of Otago Sesquicentennial Distinguished Chair in recognition of her outstanding research, teaching and service. Accolades include fellow of New Zealand's Royal Society Te Apārangi, winner of the Prime Minister's Supreme Award for Excellence in Tertiary Teaching, Fulbright Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga senior Māori scholar, and Tedx speaker.

Research projects

Her more than 100 publications consider Indigenous peoples' rights, interests and responsibilities to own and care for lands and waters ki uta, ki tai (from the mountains to the seas).

She is an advocate for encouraging state legal systems to embrace more respectfully Indigenous laws and tino rangatiratanga, for example through her work on extending legal personality to the environment and considering the role of tikanga Māori as a founding core of the LLB degree. She is author of:

Her work celebrates mātauranga Māori and seeks systemic change to decolonise research, knowledge, learning and practice.

She has multi-disciplinary research collaborations around the world, including co-leading projects on the common law doctrine of discovery, water, minerals, and multidisciplinary understandings of landscapes:

Her postgraduate theses were dedicated to Indigenous lands encased in national parks:

She writes for several legal publishers including The New Zealand Legal System:

Leadership roles

Jacinta's leadership includes:

She has organised several significant conferences including:

Postgraduate students


Jason Arnold, Pākehā, MA
Indigenisation of the Land Classification system: creating intergenerational kaitiaki frameworks for access and use of whenua tupuna, conservation lands, waters and taonga
Professor Michelle Thompson-Fawcett, Professor Jacinta Ruru

Kerri Cleaver, Ngāi Tahu, PhD
Spaces to Talk: Ngāi Tahu Women and their experiences with the foster care system and identity
Associate Professor Nicola Atwool, Professor Jacinta Ruru

Margaret Courtney, Tuhourangi, Ngati Whakaue, Tapuika, Ngati Moko and Ngati Umutahi, LLM
The Māori Land Court as a Peoples' Court
Associate Professor Bridgette Toy-Cronin, Professor Jacinta Ruru

Luke Fitzmaurice, Te Aupōuri, PhD
Child Protection and Children's Participation in Aotearoa New Zealand
Professor Nicki Taylor, Associate Professor Nicola Atwool, Professor Jacinta Ruru

Oliver Skinner, Tainui, PhD
Returning the Lakes: Māori Legal Experiences of Wairarapa Moana / Lake Wairarapa
Professor Jacinta Ruru, Dr Paerau Warbrick

Graham Strong, Ngāi Tahu, LLM
Intellectual Property Law, Plants and Māori
Professor Jacinta Ruru, Professor Shelley Griffiths

Renay Taylor, Ngāpuhi
Tikanga and legal personality – modern protection and customary law
Professor Jacinta Ruru


Metiria Stanton Turei, Ngāti Kahungunu, LLM (distinction)
The Visual Literacy of Māori Law
Professor Jacinta Ruru, Mihiata Pirini

Mihiata Pirini, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Whakatōhea, LLM (distinction)
Understanding the user experience of the Māori Land Court: Design-led research and kaupapa Māori
Dr Bridgette Toy-Cronin, Professor Jacinta Ruru

Mele Tupou, Tongan, PhD
The Process and Outcomes of the 2010 Constitutional Reform in Tonga – A Study of the Devolution of Executive Authority from Monarchy to Representative Government in a Polynesian Society
Professor Andrew Geddis, Professor Jacinta Ruru, Marcelo Rodriguez Ferrere

B Brandt, German, LLM (distinction)
Body-snatching in Aotearoa / New Zealand: a legal conflict between cultures
Professor Jacinta Ruru, Prof Margaret Briggs

Naomi Johnstone, Pākehā, PhD (exceptional)
Exploring PEACE in the Bougainville Conflict: Access to justice and reconciliation through 'win-win' mediation and Indigenous dispute resolution
Professor Jacinta Ruru, Dr Karen Brouneus

Yuan Lu, Chinese, PhD,
National Reserves in China
Dr Janet Stephenson, Prof Jacinta Ruru

Gilles Marciniak, French, PhD
Place, Space Landscape Theory in Aotearoa New Zealand
Dr Janet Stephenson, Professor Jacinta Ruru, Dr Caroline Orchiston

Liam McKay, Māori, LLM
Māori governance structures
Professor Jacinta Ruru

Jamie Morris, Tauranga Moana, LLM (distinction)
Will Affording Rivers Legal Personality help Māori attain Co-Management Aspirations with the Crown
Professor Jacinta Ruru

Benjamin Ralston, LLM (distinction)
Finding Common Ground in Our Seas: an analysis of the viability of marine spatial planning as a tool for reconciliation of Indigenous and Crown interests in the fisheries of Aotearoa/New Zealand and the Pacific region of Canada
Professor Jacinta Ruru

Abby Suszko, Tongan, PhD
Exploring Equality in the Foreshore and Seabed Debate
Professor John Dawson, Professor Jacinta Ruru, Dr Jim Williams

Eli Toeke, Ngāti Hine, MBHL
After Death: My Body, My Family, My Culture and the Law. A cross-cultural analysis of tikanga Māori, New Zealand law and organ donation
Professor Jacinta Ruru, Dr Jing-Bao Nie

LLB(honours) dissertations

Elizabeth Auld, Helen Baker, Sarah van Ballekom, Grace Boos, Anna Crosbie, Amy Douglas, Jane Dunlop, Alice Eager, Megan Exton, Emma Gattey, Edward Greig, Jo Hass, Melanie Jagush, Zannah Johnston, Naomi Johnstone, Jacobi Kohu-Morris, Riki Kotua, Emmett Maclaurin, George Mohi, Yasmin Olsen, Maya Shino, Donna Thomson, Maia Wikaira.


Ruru, J., & Kohu-Morris, J. (2020). ‘Maranga Ake Ai’: The heroics of constitutionalising te Tiriti o Waitangi/the Treaty of Waitangi in Aotearoa New Zealand. Federal Law Review, 48(4), 556-569. doi: 10.1177/0067205X20955105

Ruru, J., & Nikora, L. W. (Eds.). (2021). Ngā Kete Matauranga: Māori scholars at the research interface. Dunedin, New Zealand: Otago University Press, 304p.

Ruru, J. (2021). Indigenous ancestors: Recognizing legal personality of nature as a reconciliation strategy for connective sustainable governance. In S. A. Atapattu, C. G. Gonzalez & S. L. Seck (Eds.), Cambridge handbook of environmental justice and sustainable development. (pp. 183-195). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/9781108555791.015

Ruru, J., Wikaira, J., & Wanhalla, A. (2020). Te Takarangi: The significance of curating a sample list of Māori authorised non-fiction books. MAI Journal, 9(2), 111-120. doi: 10.20507/MAIJournal.2020.9.2.2

Miller, R. J., Ruru, J., Behrendt, L., & Lindberg, T. (2010). Discovering indigenous lands: The doctrine of discovery in the English colonies. Oxford University Press, 294p.

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