Prof Ruru 'humbled and overwhelmed' by welcome

Proud moment . . . Deputy vice-chancellor Māori professor Jacinta Ruru celebrates her appointment...
Proud moment . . . Deputy vice-chancellor Māori professor Jacinta Ruru celebrates her appointment, at Ōtākou Marae. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
The University of Otago’s first-ever deputy vice-chancellor Māori, Prof Jacinta Ruru, says she was humbled and overwhelmed by her welcoming.

A powhiri at Ōtākou Marae for Prof Ruru took place yesterday morning.

‘‘It’s a huge moment for myself and a huge moment for the University of Otago.

‘‘I’m absolutely humbled and overwhelmed by the occasion.’’

Prof Ruru said the role would empower Māori academic leadership, and increase the university’s relationship with mana whenua.

‘‘I’m looking forward to seeing how that relationship is forged, and super-charging the experience not only for Māori students but also the experience for university students across the board.’’

Prof Ruru was New Zealand’s first Māori professor of law and the first to be recognised as a fellow of the Royal Society, along with Prof Linda Tuhiwai Smith.

Prof Ruru has received significant awards including the prime minister’s supreme teaching excellence award in 2016 and the University of Otago’s distinguished research medal in 2022.

She is also a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit and is a Fulbright-Nga Pae o te Maramatanga Māori Centre of Research Excellence senior Māori scholar.

Chancellor Stephen Higgs said Prof Ruru’s appointment was a momentous occasion, and part of broader progressions with both mana whenua and Otakou Marae.

This included the adoption of the new Māori logo and te reo name for the university, which would soon be officially launched, an updated Māori strategic framework and a draft memorandum of understanding with Otakou Marae.

‘‘There is still much to do,’’ he said.

Other speakers yesterday included Edward Ellison, Hata Temo and Turi Ngatai.