Leonie is a mother of six and a grandmother of four. She is currently the Director of Te Matapunenga o Te Kotahi (Te Kotahi Research Institute) at the University of Waikato. Leonie she was Director of a community based company ‘Māori and Indigenous Analysis Ltd’ (2006 -2016), and Director of ‘The International Research Institute for Māori and Indigenous Education’ (IRI), University of Auckland (2002-2006). She has been an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Education, University of Auckland and an Adjunct Associate Professor for Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi.
Leonie is a leading kaupapa Māori educator and researcher and recipient of both the Hohua Tūtengaehe Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship and the Health Research Council Ngā Pou Senior Maori Research Fellow (2016-2018). In 2011 Leonie was the Inaugural Senior Maori Fulbright Scholar with the Indigenous Wellness Research Institute (IWRI) at the University of Washington. In 2015, she was awarded the New Zealand Association for Research in Education (NZARE) ‘Te Tohu Pae Tāwhiti Award’, for excellence in Māori Educational Research, and was the invited keynote for the 2017 NZARE Herbison Lecture. Te Kotahi Research Institute was also the 2017 recipient of the ‘NZARE Research Group’ award for excellence in Educational Research.
Leonie’s current research projects include: Te Taonga o Taku Ngākau: Ancestral Knowledge as a Framework for Wellbeing for Māori Children; He Oranga Ngākau: Māori Approaches to Trauma Informed Care; Honour Project Aotearoa: Takatāpui/ Māori LGBTIQ wellbeing; Te Tātua o Kahukura: Pathways for Māori and Indigenous Doctoral Scholars; Kare-ā-roto: Decolonising Emotions. She is also takes a lead role in the co-ordination of the Maori and Indigenous PhD Scholars support programme - MAI ki Waikato. Since 2013, Leonie has hosted, with the Te Kotahi team, ‘He Manawa Whenua Indigenous Research conference’ a highly successful conference held bi-annually in Waikato.
Leonie has extensive networks connecting her to a wide-range of Indigenous academics, researchers, institutions and communities. She has served on the Māori Health Committee for the Health Research council and on a number of key boards including Māori Television. Te Māngai Pāho (Māori Language Broadcasting funding agency), and was recently appointed to the Board for Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga (National Māori Centre of Research Excellence). Leonie has been a member of NAISA since 2015 and is on the University of Waikato Conference committee for the 2019 NAISA conference.