Our team

Ani Mikaere

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Ani Mikaere is from Ngāti Raukawa and Ngāti Porou. She lectured in law at Auckland and Waikato Universities for fourteen years before taking up a position in 2001 at Te Wānanga o Raukawa. Ani was responsible for the Ahunga Tikanga (Māori Laws and Philosophy) programme from 2003-2009 and, since 2010, she has been co-director of Te Kāhui Whakatupu Mātauranga.

In 2016 she was awarded Te Kāurutanga, a degree conferred by the founding iwi of Te Wānanga o Raukawa. Her thesis, entitled Like Moths to the Flame? A History of Ngāti Raukawa Resistance and Recovery, investigates the impact of colonisation on Ngāti Raukawa thought and was published in 2017. Other publications include He Rukuruku Whakaaro: Colonising Myths, Māori Realities (2011) and The Balance Destroyed(2017).

Annabel Ahuriri-Driscol

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Annabel Ahuriri-Driscoll hails from Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kauwhata and Ngāti Kahungunu. She is a lecturer in Māori health at the University of Canterbury School of Health Sciences, and has been involved in Māori/public health research since 2000. Annabel is undertaking PhD research on Māori adoptee stories and experiences alongside her involvement with the Marsden project. This work is of great personal significance; as an adoptee Annabel has navigated, and continues to navigate, the peaks, troughs and complexities of closed stranger adoption in her own life. 

Denise Blake


Kāore ia i te mōhio ko wai tōna ingoa nā te mea he whāngaihia ia.

Denise has engaged in the social justice sector as a health professional and researcher for over 20 years. She currently works as a Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology / the Joint Centre for Disaster Research where she teaches health psychology and emergency management courses. Her primary research interests concern identity, welfare, gender, health promotion and disaster response. Denise values using collaborative research approaches to complex social issues. Her PhD Wade in the Water: Storying Adoptees’ Experiences through the Adoption Act 1955 explored the lived experiences of adoptees as constructed through the Adoption Act 1955 and contested the legal exclusion of adoptees from normalising kinship narratives. Denise’s thesis invites you to consider how problematic psychological responses to adoption for adoptees are normal responses to abnormal circumstances.

Helen Potter

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Helen was adopted into the Potter whānau from Whakapara (Ngāpuhi) and in her early twenties reconnected with her birth whānau, the Lakes, from Mōkau (Ngāti Maniapoto). Both her adopted and birth mothers’ families are Pākehā. Helen has been involved in kaupapa Māori research for nearly twenty years and has held a number of senior research roles, including for the Māori Party and Mana Movement in Parliament. She has a Bachelor of Science and Technology from the University of Waikato, and an Honours degree and PhD in Sociology from Massey University. Helen is a co-director of Tīaho Ltd, a kaupapa Māori research company, and is the coordinator on the Whāngai and the Adoption of Māori project team.

Jenni Tupu


Jenni Tupu, Ngāpuhi, Te Aupōuri, Sāmoa.  PhD candidate with Te Tumu, School of Māori and Pacific Indigenous studies at Otago University.  Jenni lives in Auckland and works as the Registrar for Art and Design programmes at Auckland University of Technology (AUT). 

Dr Jessica Hutchings

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Dr Jessica Hutchings(Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Huirapa, Gujarati) has a PhD in environmental studies, she is a kaupapa Māori research trained in the fields of environmental and Indigenous studies. She has held senior management and leadership roles in the Māori science and research sectors and is a widely published author, including recent books, Te Mahi Māra Hua Parakore(Te Tākupu, 2015) and Decolonisation in Aotearoa: Education, Research and Practicewith Jenny Lee-Morgan (NZCER Press, 2016) both winners of the Kōrero Pono, Ngā Kupu Ora Aotearoa Book Awards. Dr Hutchings has been working at the crossroads of Indigenous knowledge, whānau and environmental wellbeing for the last two decades. She currently works across a range of projects that contribute to the broad gaols of kaupapa Māori.

For further information see jessicahutchings.org.nz

Kim McBreen

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Kim McBreen (Waitaha, Kāti Mamoe, Ngāi Tahu, Pākehā) was adopted into a Pākehā family and raised in te ao Pākehā.  When she was adopted, the social worker assured her adopting parents that she was not Māori.  As she grew up, this became harder to believe.  She has been lucky to meet both her birth parents and to learn some of her whakapapa. 

Kim is grateful for a welcoming spot at Te Wānanga o Raukawa.  There she can explore the heritage that had been withheld from her, and the ways that the state attacks whānau and our relationships with each other.

Kim has studied at Te Wānanga o Raukawa since 2008, and worked there since 2010.  She lives in Ōtaki with her partner and two children.

Maria Haenga-Collins

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Maria Haenga-Collins is of Ngāti Porou, Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki, Ngāi Tahu and Irish descent. As a child she was fostered and then adopted into a Pākehā family which led to her interest in adoption research and her theses Belonging and Whakapapa: the closed stranger adoption of Māori children into Pākehā families(2011), and Closed Stranger Adoption, Māori and Race Relations in Aotearoa New Zealand, 1955-1985(2017).

Between 2008 and 2013 Maria was employed as a social worker by Capital & Coast District Health Board to work in a specialist community mental health team.From 2013 Maria studied at the Australian Centre for Indigenous History at the Australian National University.In 2018 she took up her current position at Auckland University of Technology as a lecturer in the School of Public Health and Psychosocial Studies.

She has four children and two grand-daughters.

Moana Jackson

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Moana brings a great depth of wisdom, insight and experience to the project team.