Our team

Ani Mikaere

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Ani Mikaere is from Ngāti Raukawa and Ngāti Porou. She is the mother of four and Nanny to eleven mokopuna. In her role as Pou Whakatupu Mātauranga at Te Wānanga o Raukawa, she is responsible for leading and promoting activity which nurtures and grows the mātauranga continuum—the constantly evolving body of knowledge that has been produced by successive generations of Māori theorists and practitioners.

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-Driscoll

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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

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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 by a Pākehā mother and Māori father (Ngāpuhi) as a baby, and in her early twenties her mother helped her find her birth parents - her Pākehā birth mother and Māori birth father (Ngāti Maniapoto). Instead of an OE, Helen spent her twenties getting to know her birth parents and their whānau which has been both an exciting and healing journey. It is this journey that helped seed the idea for the project. Helen is a co-director of a kaupapa Māori research company, Tīaho Limited, and is the project's coordinator. She lives in beautiful Hōkio Beach with her partner who is also an adoptee.


Jenni Tupu

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Jenni was adopted into a Pākehā family from birth, then placed in State care at the age of 12 before being fostered from the age of 14 - for life, by the Hohepa whānau from Ngāpuhi, Te Aupōuri and Ngāti Hine iwi. She is of Māori and Sāmoan descent and is still seeking whakapapa links to her identity which she describes as a life-long search for self. 

In her PhD studies, Jenni is investigating the intergenerational stories and the effect of adoption for Māori and their whānau. Her studies are with Te Tumu, School of Māori and Pacific Indigenous studies at Otago University.  Jenni has been adopted, is married to Jon who was whāngai within his Niuean whānau and has adopted her eldest mokopuna who is now 18. Adoption has shaped much of her life and it was an important reason for joining this project.


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 (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 enough to find and meet both her birth parents and to learn some of her whakapapa.  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 Jackson (Ngāti Kahungunu, Rongomaiwahine, Ngāti Porou) brings to this project his love of whānau, and his knowledge and experience disentangling us from the harms of colonisation.  Moana’s contribution to tino rangatiratanga includes the ground breaking He Whāipaanga Hou project on Māori experience of the criminal justice system, co-founding and directing Ngā Kaiwhakamarama i Ngā Ture, chairing the Caucus for Indigenous Peoples which led to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, co-chairing the Independent Iwi Working Group which led to the Matike Mai Aotearoa report on constitutional transformation.  There are countless examples of Moana supporting kaupapa, educating, mediating, mentoring.  He is a beloved koro and matua.


Kayrn Kee

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Kayrn, from Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine, has been working in the New Zealand tertiary education sector about twenty years. She has a background in tertiary education management, policy and information management. In her current role she assists with conference deliveries at Te Wānanga o Raukawa as a medium for sharing Māori ways of knowing that contribute to the survival and vitality of Māori ways of being. Kayrn is providing administrative support to the Whāngai and adoption of Māori project.