Jo Smith

Research interests

Māori Television; Postcolonial Media Cultures; Indigenous Film and Media; Race and Ethnicity; Media, Subjectivities and Identities.


BA Otago
PhD Otago

My research examines the socio-political power of media technologies with a primary focus on how colonial histories inform contemporary media practices. I have developed my research profile across three interrelated fields (Indigenous, Postcolonial, and Settler Colonial Studies) to ask new questions about the ways in which media technologies, institutions and aesthetic practices help shape notions of identity, nationhood and community.

Recent projects

Place, Power, Media: Mediated Responses to Globalization. An anthology that examines the role of media in shaping a sense of place and identity in the world deeply connected to global social, political, technological and aesthetic relations. Edited by Divya McMillin, Joost de Bruin & Jo Smith. Forthcoming from Peter Lang in 2018.

Onscreen Indigeneity: the case of Māori Television. A study of Indigenous television from Aotearoa/New Zealand. Funded by a Standard Marsden Grant (2012-2014). Download a summary of findings in English or Te Reo MāoriMāori Television: the first 10 years was published by Auckland University Press in 2016.

Research in progress

Communicating Kaitiakitanga: a Māori Land & Water Food Story. A Kaupapa Māori and Environmental Communications study of the role of kaitiakitanga in shaping Māori agrifood practices. With Co-PI Dr Jessica Hutchings. Funded by Our Lands & Waters National Science Challenge (2018-2019): $250,000.

Areas of supervision

  • Media representations of race and cultural identity
  • New Zealand film and media studies
  • Postcolonial Theory
  • Indigenous film, media and cultural studies

Selection of publications

External funding

2018-2019 Our Lands & Waters National Science Challenge Communicating Kaitiakitanga. With Co-PI Dr Jessica Hutchings. ($250,000)

2012-2014 Standard Marsden Research Grant Onscreen Indigeneity: the Case of Māori Television. ($770,000)

2008-2009 Fast Start Marsden Grant, Unsettled States: Settler-Native-Migrant Media ($170,000)

Recent publications

Smith, J. (2018). Towards a Kaupapa Māori Ako Knowledge Transfer System. Report for Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities SRA: Kāinga Tahi Kāinga Rua (SRA5), 11pgs, Wellington: BBHTC. Available at:

Hutchings, J, Smith, J, Roskruge, N and Severne, C. Enhancing Māori Agribusiness Through Kaitiakitanga Tools. Think Piece for Toitū Te Whenua, Toiora Te Wai, Our Land and Waters, National Science Challenge. July 2017. Available at:

Smith, Jo. Māori Television: the First Ten Years. Auckland: Auckland University Press. 2016.

Smith, Jo. “Decolonising Dreams and Māori Television”. Hutchings, Jessica and Jenny Lee-Morgan (eds.) Decolonisation in Aotearoa: Education, Research and Practice. Wellington: NZCER Press. 2016.158-171.

Recent conference presentations

2016 Keynote Address. “Māori TV and Emerging Narratives of Nationhood”. Māori Association of Social Science Conference, Nui Te Kōrero: Rewriting National Narratives, Te Herenga Waka Marae, Victoria University of Wellington. 9-11 November.

2015 “The Complexities of Onscreen Indigeneity: the diverse aspirations surrounding Māori Television”, He Manawa Whenua Indigenous Research Conference. Te Kotahi Institute, University of Waikato. 29 June-1 July.

2015 “Māori Television’s Place-based Media Practices”, Rethinking Communication, Space and Identity. ANZCA, Queenstown. 8-10 July.

View all publications by Jo Smith