Ngapare Kaihina (Polly) Hopa

Tainui, Ngāti Tūwharetoa

1935 -

Ngapare Hopa was born at Hukanui in the Waikato and spent her early years at Gordonton. She was educated at Queen Victoria College and Epsom Grammar School. She spent two years studying at Auckland University and then attended Auckland Teachers’ College. She taught at Lynfield College and spent a year in Māori Welfare work. Hopa completed her B.A. degree at Auckland University while teaching at Auckland Girls’ Grammar School. She completed a Diploma in Social Anthropology from 1963-64. She went on to do a B.Litt research degree from 1964-66 at Oxford University. On returning to New Zealand, Hopa lectured in Māori Studies at the Department of Continuing Education at Auckland University from 1966-69. In 1969 she went to California and took up a position in the Anthropology Department of California State University, Fullerton, for ten years. During this time she spent one year fulfilling residential requirements for D.Phil. at Oxford, finished writing her thesis on urban Māori sodalities at California and graduated with a D.Phil in 1977, becoming the first Māori woman to earn the degree Doctor of Philosophy. Hopa moved to Irvine Community College in Irvine, Orange County, and started a new social division in anthropology and sociology. She continued in this position until 1986 when she returned to New Zealand because of her mother’s ill health. From 1986-1993 she worked as Senior Research Officer at the Centre of Māori Studies and Research at Waikato University. In 1993 she took a sabbatical and received funding to do life histories of old women in the Tainui Tribe. In 1994 she joined the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at Waikato and in mid-1996 was appointed an Associate Professorship at the Department of Māori Studies at Auckland University. In February 1998 she took up the position of Chair in Maori Culture and Society and HOD of the Māori Studies Department, Auckland University.

Hopa has held many other positions including membership of the Waitangi Tribunal from 1989-1992. She was also part of the Review of Advisory Services with Jack Shallcrass, and is currently on the Alcoholic Advisory Council. Her publications cover work on Māori and North American Indian communities and she has written a number of collective works including critiques of legislation. Hopa has provided some of the annotations which appear in quotation.

In 2011 Hopa was presented the Ta Kingi Ihaka Award at the The Te Waka Toi awards for her contribution to Te Ao Māori.

Biographical sources

  • Interview and correspondence with Pare Hopa, August 1992, 14 Aug. 1998 and 1 Sept. 2004.
  • Te Ao Hou 56 (1966): 17.
  • 14 October 2016


  • Fire that kindles hearts : ten Māori scholars. Ed. Selwyn Katene. Wellington, N.Z.: Steele Roberts Aotearoa, 2015.
  • Non-fiction

  • The Art of Piupiu Making: An Instructional Manual Setting out the Materials, Design and Assembly of the Māori Skirt, Central Item of Māori Costume. Wellington, N.Z.: Reed, 1971.
  • In her introduction, Hopa provides a history of the piupiu and its development with the influx of European settlers and European materials. The text is written in the form of an instructional guide and is illustrated with line drawings and photographs. It is a slim publication of five chapters headed: "Preparations for Making a Piupiu", "Preparing the Flax Strands", "Assembling the Piupiu", "Dyeing", and "The Waistband".
  • The Anthropologist as Tribal Advocate. Hamilton: Centre for Māori Studies and Research, U of Waikato, [1988].
  • "Papatuanuku - Space ship Earth." Changing Directions: Proceedings of Ecopolitics 1V. Ed. K. Dyer & John Young. [Adelaide]: Graduate Centre for Environmental Studies, U of Adelaide, 1991.
  • Paper given at the Echo Politics Conference Adelaide in 1990.
  • "Māori Law." First Peoples: An Atlas of the Fourth World. Ed. Julian Berger. London: Gaia Books, 1991.
  • "From Flaxroots." Toward a Child and Family Policy for New Zealand. Ed. G. Hassal and I. Robertson. Wellington [N.Z.]: Office of the Commissioner for Children, 1991.
  • Hopa writes that this paper "deals with the lack of research on Māori families/households, and the creative arrangements that the ‘reforms’ have engendered. Research needs to be conducted on the basis of which policies can be developed."
  • "Whanaungatanga Writ Large." Proceedings of Primal Spirituality Workshop. Hawaii: East West Centre, 1991.
  • This paper "deals with the way Māori traditionally related to the natural world in terms of whakapapa (descent) and kinship (whanaungatanga) and the concomitant obligations and responsibilities these entail."
  • "Representing Identity." After Writing Culture - Epistemology and Praxis in Contemporary Anthropology (ASA 35). Ed. A. James, J. Hockley, A. Dawson. London: Routledge, 1995.
  • Co-authors N. Hopa and A. Cheater. This “deals with the problem of representing individual identity, fully and accurately because it is fluid, situational and fundamentally political.”
  • The Te Roroa Report-Joint Report of Tribunal Members. Wellington, N.Z.: Brookers. 1995.
  • A report to the Minister of Justice.
  • "Land and Re-Empowerment: That Waikato Case." Power in the Post Modern Era. Ed. A. Cheater. London: Routledge, 1997.
  • Hopa states this "deals with the way in which land returned under settlement will serve to re-establish the ‘tribal estate’ for economic and social development."
  • "Modelling the Commoditisation of Māori Land - Incorporating Identities." Anthology on Common Property. Ed. A. Gisli. London: Routlege, 1998.
  • Co-authors Ngapare Hopa and Angela Cheater. Hopa writes that this “deals with the incomplete commoditisation of Māori Land and with how land being returned under settlement, in the Waikato Settlement case, is being held under ‘communal title’ and in a Trust with the leaders of the Kingitanga as Trustees or kaitiaki. Any individual or individual hapu claims have been submerged or extinguished under this title and/or incorporated”.
  • "Rere Atu, Taku Mau!: Discovering History Language and Politics in the Maori Language Newspapers 1842-1933." Ed. Jenifer Curnow, Ngapare Hopa and Jane McRae. Auckland University Press, 2002
  • Reviews

  • Rev. of The Art of Taniko Weaving, by S. M. Mead. Te Ao Hou 65 (1968/69): 57-58.
  • "Books and Book Reviews." Rev. of Nga Tohu a Tainui: Landmarks of Tainui, by F. L. Phillips. Archifacts: Bulletin of the Archives and Records Association of New Zealand (Apr. 1990): 68-70.
  • Theses

  • "The Rangātira: Chieftainship in Traditional Māori Society." Diss. Oxford U, 1966.
  • B.Litt thesis in Anthropology.
  • "A Study of Urban Māori Sodalities." Diss. Oxford U, 1977.


  • "Oxford Degree." Te Ao Hou 56 (1966): 17.
  • Notes Hopa’s recent graduation with B.Lit. from Oxford University and her appointment as extension lecturer in Māori Studies at the University of Auckland.
  • "People and Places." Te Ao Hou 48 (1964): 30-33.
  • A brief account of Hopa’s graduation with a Diploma of Anthropology from Oxford University.
  • Erai, Michelle, Fuli, Everdina, Irwin, Kathie and Wilcox, Lenaire. Māori Women: An Annotated Bibliography. [Wellington, N.Z.]: Michelle Erai, Everdina Fuli, Kathie Irwin and Lenaire Wilcox, 1991. 12.
  • Taylor, C. R. H. A Bibliography of Publications on the New Zealand Māori and the Moriori of the Chatham Islands. Oxford: At the Clarendon Press, Oxford UP, 1972. 111.