Māori economics whiz-kid scores big scholarship

By Kimiora Kaire-Melbourne

Hautahi Kingi (Nga Rauru, Te Atihaunui a Paparangi), a PhD candidate in economics at Cornell University in the United States, is the winner of this year’s $10,000 Motu Thesis Scholarship.

Kingi has two elements to his research: one around immigration and the other looking into tax and consumption.

He says his understanding of the importance of economics followed naturally from his upbringing in New Zealand, where he saw inequality between Māori and others. He says, “Like indigenous people everywhere, Māori suffer from poorer economic, health and social outcomes than New Zealand non-Māori. Growing up around this inequality opened my eyes to how people's lives are often dictated by economic circumstances beyond their control.”

Kingi grew up speaking Te Reo Māori. Before heading to Cornell, he completed a BCA in economics and finance with first class honours and a BSc in mathematics and statistics at Victoria University, where he was a Te Rōpū Āwhina mentor.

“I worked alongside other Awhina mentors to improve the lack of practical channels through which young Māori could use their skills to contribute to their iwi. Motu, with this scholarship is attempting to build meaningful, long-term links between researchers and iwi. I’m keen to be a part of this,” says Kingi.

Kingi has gone from strength to strength with a successful future ahead of him.

He says, “I’ve been extremely privileged to be at Cornell for five years and am in the home stretch on my doctoral dissertation. I hope to take advantage of the many doors that Cornell has opened for me once I graduate, and I’m currently exploring both research and industry opportunities within the US.”


Hautahi Kingi’s other awards include the Louis Walinsky Fund in Economics Outstanding Teaching Award (2014); William Georgetti Scholarship (2012 - 2015); Victoria University Graduate Award (2010); Jan Whitwell Prize in Macro and Monetary Economics (2009); Financial Services Institute of Australasia Prize in Corporate Finance (2009); Sir Apirana Ngata Memorial Scholarship (2009); Alumni Association Faculty Award (2007); Victoria University School-Leaver Scholarship for Academic Excellence (2006); PricewaterhouseCoopers Scholarship (2005); and the Maori Education Trust Undergraduate Higher Learning Scholarship (2005).