The Team

Professor Tania Ka'ai

Māori (Ngāti Porou, Ngāi Tahu), Hawaiian, Cook Island Māori, Sāmoan

Contact Details:



Dip Tchg, BEd, MPhil, PhD, CertMDP

Research Areas:

Language revitalisation strategies such as digital dictionaries, with a focus on te reo Māori (the Māori language) and Pacific languages, Indigenous epistemologies and methodologies, Māori education

Current Supervision:       


John Patolo (primary)
Nogiata Tukimata (primary)
Jessica Worchel-Bunce (primary)
Adrienne Spratt (primary)
Madison Stuart (primary)
Ngaturu Paparahi (primary)


Joanna Rogers (primary)
Huhana Moselen (primary)

Research projects:

Externally funded

The language of the environment:  Funded by Catalyst, this project is led by Associate Professor Isaac Warbrick, Faculty of Health & Environmental Sciences, AUT

Te Hotonga Hapori – Connecting communities: Funded by Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), this project is led by Professor Scott Duncan, Faculty of Health & Environmental Sciences, AUT.  For more information see Te Hotonga Hapori - Connecting Communities

Kei roto tō tātau rongoā:  A community & whānau-based prevention approach for wellbeing:  The project lead is Professor Denise Wilson, Faculty of Health & Environmental Sciences, AUT and is funded by the Health Research Council (HRC).

Addressing physical inactivity and world's challenges: Using a mātauranga Māori lens to better understand indigenous worldviews in physical activity and health: A Catalyst funded project, is led out by Professor Erica Hinckson, Faculty of Health & Environmental Sciences, AUT. 

Stimuli-responsive cellulose surfactants:  Forming emulsions that break on demand:  This is a MBIE Smart Idea project that is led by Jack Chen, Faculty of Health & Environmental Sciences, AUT.

Optimising the full potential of friction sliding systems for earthquake resilient buildings:  This MBIE funded project is led by Shahab Ramhormozian, Faculty of Design & Creative Technologies, AUT.

Improving Outcome of mild Traumatic Brain Injury with Advanced Brain Imaging:  Funded by an HRC Emerging Research grant, the project lead is Mangor Pedersen, Faculty of Health & Environmental Sciences, AUT.

School absenteeism – A potential early indicator of self-harm and suicidal behaviours in adolescent:  The project lead is Irene Zeng, Faculty of Health & Environmental Sciences, AUT.

Create an innovative integrated mental-health system framework for Aotearoa:  This project is funded by Oakley Mental Health Research Foundation and is led by Irene Zeng, Faculty of Health & Environmental Sciences, AUT.

Internally funded

Project 1:  Te Kōhanga o te Tūī, funded by a faculty contestable research grant

This was a collaborative project between local iwi (tribes) and community that focused on the early years of child development.  One of the key drivers for the collaboration was an aligned interest in improving outcomes for rangatahi Māori (Māori youth) by maximising opportunities in the home for te reo Māori (the Māori language) language acquisition and learning in the early years.  Selected publications from this research include the following:

Ka'ai, T. et al. (2022).  Te Kōhanga o te Tūī:  The potential of voice recognition technology and artificial intelligence (AI) to support the acquisition of te reo Māori and digital literacy in early child development - A literature review. Te Ipukarea, Auckland, New Zealand: Auckland University of Technology. Kaai-et-al-Te-Kohanga-o-te-tui-Literature-review.pdf

Ka’ai, T. et al. (2022). Te Kōhanga o te Tūī:  Data analysis report:  Based on whānau responses to an online survey designed to gauge their perspectives on the use of assistive technologies in te reo Māori language acquisition. Te Ipukarea, Auckland, New Zealand: Auckland University of Technology. Kaai-et-al-Te-Kohanga-o-Te-Tui-Report-on-survey-data-2022-Final.pdf

Project 2:  Funded by a faculty learning and teaching grant

This collaborative project was to create and test a virtual online mentoring programme designed for Māori and Pacific students in Te Ara Auaha, Faculty of Design & Creative Technologies.  Team members included:

Professor Tania Ka’ai, Tania Smith-Henderson, Dr Hazel Abraham, (Te Ipukarea Research Institute) Dr Matt Guinibert, Dr Rebecca Trelease, (School of Communication Studies) Professor Aman Oo, Professor Tek Tjing Lie and ECMS postgraduate students (School of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences).

Selected publications from this project include:

Ka’ai, T. et al. (2022, 14 March). Te Hiringa Taketake: A literature review. Creating a Māori and Pacific student virtual online mentoring programme in Te Ara Auaha, Faculty of Design & Creative Technologies. Te Ipukarea, Auckland, New Zealand: Auckland University of Technology.   Kaai-Te-Hiringa-Taketake-14032022-final.pdf

Project 3:   Whakamanawa te mātauranga, funded by a faculty contestable research grant

A collaborative project, Whakamanawa te mātauranga: Decolonising the STEM space and (re) imaging curriculum and practice through Māori and Pacific knowledge in STEM subjects and disciplines to empower Indigenous students is led by Dr Hazel Abraham.  The research team members are Dr Hazel Abraham, Professor Tania Ka’ai,  Tania Smith-Henderson, Donald Ripia (Te Ipukarea Research Institute), Professor Tek Tjing Lie, Dr Junior Nomani (School of Engineering, Computer & Mathematical Sciences), Thomas Watts (School of Communication Studies).

Selected publications:

Feigin, V. L., Krishnamurthi, R., Medvedev, O., Merkin, A., Nair, B., Kravchenko, M., . . .Ka’ai, T.M., . . . Mahawish, K. (2023). Usability and feasibility of PreventS-MD webapp for stroke prevention. International Journal of Stroke. doi:10.1177/17474930231190745

Olin, C. V., Berghan, J., Thompson-Fawcett, M., Ivory, V., Witten, K., Howden-Chapman, P., Duncan, S., Ka’ai, T., . . . Hinckson, E. (2022). Inclusive and collective urban home spaces: The future of housing in Aotearoa New Zealand. Wellbeing, Space and Society, 3. doi:10.1016/j.wss.2022.100080

Ka'ai, T. M. (2020).  Aotearoa / New Zealand.  In S. J. Minton (Ed.). Residential schools and indigenous peoples from genocide via education to the possibilities for processes of truth, restitution, reconciliation and reclamation.  Routledge Research in Internationa & Comparative Education.  Oxfordshire, United Kingdom:  Routledge.

Ka’ai, T. M. (2021).  Mahitahi:  An indigenous creative-based pedagogy.  In M. Modeen (ed.).  Decolonising place-based arts research.  Duncan of Jordanstone College of Arts & Design, University of Dundee, Scotland with The Institute of Advanced Studies, University of Minnesota, MN, United States of America & Te Ipukarea Research Institute, Auckland University of Technology.

Ka'ai, T. M. (2019). Ngoingoi Pēwhairangi:  A remarkable life.  Wellington, New Zealand:  Huia Publishers.

Ka‘ai, T. M. (2018). Okea ururoatia:  The regeneration of native Māori language speakers in Aotearoa New Zealand.  In A. Sherris & S. Penfold (Eds.). Rejecting marginalized status: Educational projects and curricula pushing back against language endangerment. Bristol, United Kingdom:  Multilingual Matters.