Dr. Kathie Irwin

New Zealand

In life I aspire to be a good ancestor: living my life in a way which my grandchildren will look back on and cherish.


Kathie is a third generation Māori, woman, educator. Public service and social justice are deeply embedded in her whakapapa (genealogy). Her working life has been devoted to education that is an authentic pathway to the futures promised in the Treaty of Waitangi, the founding document of Aotearoa NZ.


Kathie’s happy times are when she is swimming, singing, or when she is hanging out with her beloved grandson. She may be a recovering academic! Kathie spent 40 years in higher education, many as a student (becoming a PhD), twenty as an academic, and over a decade in governance roles.


Horiana, Katheen, Kathleen, Horiana: The 100 Year Journey from Nuhaka to Harvard. 


In 2014 my daughter, Horiana, graduated with a Master’s from Harvard. Exactly 100 years earlier, her maternal great grandmother, Horiana Te Kauru, made profound decisions to create a life no one else thought possible for a Maori girl at that time. Aged 15, she changed her religion, left her family and travelled to the other side of the country to access Secondary School. She became a teacher, as did her daughter (my mother) and me. My grandmother not only created a future for herself against the odds, she created a pathway, and an example, that her descendants would follow for generations after her. 


Join this presentation to:

  • explore stories of four generations of Maori women

  • explore how Maori in New Zealand have used Maori culture to resist colonization

  • build the powerful futures their ancestors envisioned for them


Two useful resources: