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Professor of Demography, University of Waikato

Dr Kukutai specialises in Māori and Indigenous population research and leads the NIDEA research programme Te Para One E Tū Mai Nei: Māori and indigenous futures.

Her research spans a broad range of population topics from iwi /tribal demography and indigenous data sovereignty, to Māori-migrant relations and the impacts of colonisation on Indigenous health. She has undertaken commissioned work for numerous iwi entities, Māori organisations, and government policy agencies.

Much of her research uses mixed methods and involves working with other social scientists in Aotearoa and internationally. Current projects include: Counting our Tūpuna: Colonisation and indigenous survivorship in Aotearoa NZ (Marsden Fund); Indigenous data sovereignty: Enduring aspirations in a digital age (Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga); Indigenous health in transition (Swedish Research Council, PI: AProf. Per Axelsson); and Capturing the diversity dividend in Aotearoa New Zealand (Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment: PI: Prof. Jacques Poot & Prof. Paul Spoonley).

In addition to her work in Māori and Indigenous demography, Tahu leads the Ethnicity Counts? project which studies how governments around the world count and classify populations by ethnic-racial criteria and citizenship status. She has published widely on this topic, as well as on census methodologies, with Dr Victor Thompson (Rider University, USA). They are currently writing a book examining how and why state practices of ethnic-racial and civic enumeration have changed over the past 30 years.

About Me
Tahu is from the Waikato town of Ngāruawāhia and belongs to Ngāti Tīpā, Ngāti Mahanga, Ngāti Kinohaku, Ngāti Ngawaero and Te Aupōuri iwi. She has degrees in History and Demography from the University of Waikato, and a PhD in Sociology from Stanford University. Tahu is Vice-President of the Population Association of New Zealand Council, is a founding member of Te Mana Raraunga, the Māori data sovereignty network, and serves on the Royal Society Te Aparangi Council, and the Social Policy Research and Evaluation Unit Whānau Reference Group. Dr Kukutai was the inaugural recipient of the University of Waikato early career researcher award and was appointed a World Social Science Fellow in 2014.

Maori health; Maori identity; population studies; social science research; migration; census; ethnic classification; ethnic inequalities; indigenous demography; iwi demography.

PhD in Sociology
MA in Demography
BA in History


  • –present
    Professor of Demography, Waikato University


  • 2010 
    Stanford University , PhD