She has worked in the field of Māori education, research, and health for many years as an educator and researcher and is well known for her work in Kaupapa Māori research. Smith has published widely in journals and books. Her book Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples (2nd ed., 2012), has been one of the most widely cited publications relating to decolonizing research practices in the world since its initial publication in 1999. She is well known internationally as a public speaker.
Dr. Smith was a founding Joint Director of New Zealand’s Māori Centre of Research Excellence from 2002-2007 and a Professor of Education at the University of Auckland.
She is a member of New Zealand’s Health Research Council and the Marsden Fund Council, Chair of the Māori Health Research Committee, President of the New Zealand Association for Research in Education and Convener of the Social Sciences Assessment Panel. Most recently she was appointed to the Constitutional Advisory Panel Committee in New Zealand and the High Panel – Science, Technology and Innovation for Development in Paris.
In her groundbreaking 1999 book, Decolonizing Methodologies, Smith traces the history of scientific knowledge as it developed through racist practices and the exploitation of indigenous peoples, and asserts a challenging vision for how research and education can be used to confront colonialism and oppression. Re-released in 2012, this book launched a wave of indigenous-led critiques of academic power and proposals for indigenized methodological interventions.
Linda Tuhiwai Smith has continued to expand her work, most recently linking critiques of scientific authority to analyses of colonialism and anti-Māori bias in the Aotearoa (New Zealand) health care system. Decolonizing Methodologies remains the essential text in confronting colonialism in the academy and indigenising research methodologies and has sparked a major turn in methodological scholarship and perspectives on colonialism and research. Important works building on Decolonizing Methodologies including excellent works including (but certainly not limited to) Indigenizing the Academy by Devon Abbot Mihesuah and Angela Cavender Wilson (2004), Indigenous Methodologies by Margaret Kovach (2009), and Research is Ceremony by Shawn Wilson (2009). In 2013, she was named a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) for her work in support of Māori research and education.