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Hana Cutts-Smith

Forcible Transfer of Children, Cultural Genocide in Aotearoa (New Zealand)

Forcible Transfer of Children, Cultural Genocide in Aotearoa (New Zealand) in the Department of History


Māori and Kūki ‘Āirani student descended from Ngāti Te Whiti and Ngāti Tāwhirikura of Te Ātiawa in Te Awakairangi, Aotearoa, and the Makea dynasty of Te Au O Tonga in Avarua, Rarotonga.

I graduated from Newcastle University in 2021 with a BA (Hons) in History and Politics, supervised by Dr. Jen Kain, and recently completed an MA in Economic and Social History (Research Methods) from Durham University as supervised by Dr Gabriella Treglia.

My project is an historical and ethnographic examination of the legacy of forcible transfer of Māori children by New Zealand. It will investigate nineteenth and twentieth century racial discourse and legal technologies to dismantle myths that position the Māori parent as enemy of the child. My project will discuss how forcible transfer of children benefits the settler-colonial state, paying particular attention to the importance of whakapapa (geneaology) and whanau (family) to cultural continuity. It is social-science based research that will use a variety of approaches, including fieldwork interviews and insider participant observation. This will be considered alongside historical sources such as court transcripts, welfare archives and traditional forms of knowledge that include Pūrākau (traditional narrative) and waiata (commemorative song).

This project aims to challenge concepts of the violent home of the infanticidal "savage," reconstructing a body of knowledge that promotes social change - analysing the extent of colonialism's contribution to contemporary practices of child removal and the silencing of Māori whanau - highlighting the trauma inflicted by the state and experienced by birth parents.


In 2021, I was a succesful applicant to the Economic and Social Research Council's Northern Ireland and North East Doctoral Training Partnerships. I recieved a 1+3 studentship, which also covered my MA in Economic and Social History (Research Methods).

  • Dr Gabriella Treglia | Assistant Professor (Modern American History) 

  • Professor Nayanika Mookherjee | Professor (Anthropology) and Co-Director (Social Sciences and Health) in the Institute of Advanced Study

Research interests

  • Colonialism and Decolonisation
  • Discourse Studies
  • Genocide Studies
  • Kaupapa Māori Research
  • Māori philosophy and social justice