University of Auckland: Dr Ngāpare Hopa awarded Elsdon Best Memorial medal

Leading academic Dr Ngāpare Hopa has received the Elsdon Best Memorial medal, acknowledging her significant contribution to Māori research at a ceremony at the University of Auckland last night.

Dr Hopa is a former head of the University’s Māori Studies Department and held the chair in Māori Society and Culture. She is the first Māori woman to complete her doctorate at the University of Oxford, with research on urban Māori kinship and networks.

Dr Hopa has promoted positive relationships between cultures and a better understanding of New Zealand’s history. Her commitment to Māori education has spanned more than 40 years and continues to advise on research projects.

Dr Hopa said, “If you stay true to your kaupapa in whatever you do, I believe that you can accomplish so much.”

Molecular anthropologist Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith of the University of Otago was awarded the Nayacakalou Medal at the ceremony in recognition of her research into Pacific migration. Professor Matisoo-Smith uses genetic markers to trace the migration of peoples from Africa to their final destination Aotearoa.

The medals are awarded by the Polynesian Society, one of the country’s oldest research communities. Best was a prolific ethnographer, best known for his major work about Ngāi Tūhoe, The Children of the Mist.

The Polynesian Society also awarded Bruce Biggs Scholarships to three students from the University of Auckland:

Hollyanna Wheeney Ainea for an MA in Pacific Studies for thesis archival research on New Zealand’s public perceptions of Samoa’s Mau Movement.
John Middleton for a PhD in Linguistics for research with the Tokelau communities in Wellington on “the use of negation in the Tokelau language”.
Zoë Catherine Lavatangaloa Henry for a PhD in Pacific Studies on 18th and 19th shifts from resolution of wrongs by ‘restoration’ to resolution by ‘punishment’.