Professor Graham Hingangaroa Smith, of Whanganui, is joining Massey University as deputy vice-chancellor Māori.

Smith, of Ngāti Apa, Ngāti Kahungunu, Te Aitanga a Hauiti and Kāti Māmoe has been acting director of Te Pourewa Arotahi – the institute of post Treaty-settlement futures at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi.

Previously he was the chief executive of Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi in Whakatane for eight years before retiring in 2015.

Massey vice-chancellor professor Jan Thomas said she is delighted to have someone of Smith's academic standing and mana join the university in a senior leadership role.

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"Professor Smith is ideally placed to lead Massey's Tiriti o Waitangi-led strategy," Thomas said.

Smith has a Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts (Anthropology) with honours and a PhD (Education) from the University of Auckland as well as a teaching diploma from Auckland Teachers College.

He has been a key figure in the development of Kaupapa Māori theorising, which has had significant impact within the academy in New Zealand and international indigenous settings.

Smith taught in state and Kaupapa Māori schools in Auckland. After returning to the University of Auckland in 1999, he was appointed professor of education – Māori education.

In the same year he was appointed pro vice-chancellor Māori and worked in the senior management team of the office of the vice-chancellor.

Smith also worked in Canada at the University of British Columbia for six years, heading the education policy studies department in the faculty of education.

He worked building indigenous capacities and capabilities with many different universities in Canada and around the Pacific Rim.

Smith is known as a builder of transforming initiatives.

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Three national examples include the establishment of Ngā Pae o te Maramatanga (the Māori Centre of Research Excellence), the MAI (Māori and indigenous graduate programme to establish 500 Māori doctoral graduates in five years), and he was the inaugural chairman of the Council for Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi and led the Treaty of Waitangi claim for their settlement.

In the 2014 Queen's Birthday Honours, Smith was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Māori and to education and in 2017 he was awarded the Prime Minister's Award for lifetime achievement in education.