Faculty & Staff




Professor of Law Emerita
Regents' Medalist for Excellence in Teaching


BA, Beloit College, 1970
JD, William S. Richardson School of Law, 1976


After receiving her law degree, Professor MacKenzie served as a law clerk to Chief Justice William S. Richardson of the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court. In 1980, she joined the staff of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation (NHLC), a public interest law firm protecting and advancing the rights of Native Hawaiians. She served as NHLC’s Executive Director from 1982-1986 and as a senior staff attorney from 1986-1992. From 1992-1999, she was the Executive Director of the Hawaiian Claims Office, a state program established to review and make recommendations on claims by Hawaiian Home Lands beneficiaries.

Professor MacKenzie has worked on cases asserting Hawaiian traditional and customary rights, dealing with land issues, and defending the constitutionality of Hawaiian programs. She teaches Native Hawaiian Rights, Federal Indian Law, the Second Year Seminar legal writing course, and specific topics courses in Native Hawaiian law. Prof. MacKenzie is a founding member and past president of the Native Hawaiian Bar Association, which she helped to establish in 1992. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Hikaʻalani, a Native Hawaiian cultural and educational organization, and on the Board of Directors of the Kailua Hawaiian Civic Club. In Fall 2017, Prof. MacKenzie served as Acting Dean of the Law School.   

Prof. MacKenzie is Editor-in-Chief of Native Hawaiian Law: A Treatise (2015), the definitive resource for understanding critical legal issues affecting the Native Hawaiian community. She is also a contributing author to the latest edition of Felix S. Cohen’s Handbook of Federal Indian Law. 

Selected Publications

  • A Collective Memory of Injustice: Reclaiming Hawaiʻi’s Crown Lands Trust in Response to Judge James S. Burns, 39 U.Haw. L. Rev.481 (2017) (co-authored with D. Kapuaʻala Sproat). HeinOnline | SSRN | ScholarSpace
  • Ch. 1, Historical Background, in Native Hawaiian Law: A Treatise (MacKenzie, Serrano, & Sproat eds., 2015).
  • Ch. 2, The Public Land Trust, in Native Hawaiian Law: A Treatise (MacKenzie, Serrano, & Sproat eds., 2015).
  • Ch. 5, Native Hawaiians and U.S. Law, in Native Hawaiian Law: A Treatise (MacKenzie, Serrano, & Sproat eds., 2015).
  • Ch. 12, Papahānaumokuākea, in Native Hawaiian Law: A Treatise (MacKenzie, Serrano, & Sproat eds., 2015) (co-authored with Wayne Chung Tanaka).
  • Ch. 15, Religious Freedom, in Native Hawaiian Law: A Treatise (MacKenzie, Serrano, & Sproat eds., 2015).
  • Ke Ala Loa – The Long Road: Native Hawaiian Sovereignty and the State of Hawaiʻi, 47 Tulsa Law Rev. 621 (Spring 2012). HeinOnline | ScholarSpace
  • Ke Ala Pono – The Path of Justice: The Moon Court’s Native Hawaiian Rights Decisions, 33 U.Haw. L. Rev. 447 (Spring 2011). HeinOnline | ScholarSpace
  • Hawaiian Custom in Hawai‘i State Law, Conference Paper from Tūhonohono: The State and Custom, Tainui Endowed College and Te Mātāhauariki Research Institute, University of Waikato, Hamilton, Aotearoa/New Zealand, published in The Yearbook of New Zealand Jurisprudence (2010). HeinOnline | ScholarSpace

Other Recent Works

  • The U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Kānaka ʻŌiwi, in Who Is Indigenous: Perspectives on Indigeneity, Identity, Dispossession and Transition (E. Barrett Ristroph, ed., 2022)
  • Rice c Cayetano: la Cour suprême des États-Unis et la négation du droit à l’autodétermination des peuples autochtones du Pacifique, in Les Cahiers du Ciéra, a collection of articles on Espaces revendiqués, espaces interconnectés dans le Pacifique insulaire (2021) (co-authored with Professor Geneviève Motard of the Universite of Laval Law Faculty)
  • Senator Inouye’s Contribution to the Fight for Hawaiian Sovereignty in Looking to the Future: The Life and Legacy of Senator Daniel K. Inouye (National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, 2016).
  • “The Trial of Queen Liliʻuokalani,” short essay for program accompanying performances of the play, The Trial of a Queen (October 2013).
  • Haliʻa Aloha: A Tribute to Jon M. Van Dyke, 34 U. Haw. L. Rev. 369 (Spring 2012). HeinOnline | ScholarSpace
  • Ka Lama Kū O Ka Noʻeau: The Standing Torch of Wisdoma tribute to Chief Justice William S. Richardson, 33 U. Haw. L. Rev. 3 (Winter 2011). HeinOnline | ScholarSpace
  • “But for the Overthrow-Imagining an Alternate Future,” short essay for Mai Poina, a guided walking tour illustrating the events leading up to and during the 1893 overthrow (September 2010). 
  • “Law and the Courts,” essay in The Value of Hawai‘i: Knowing the Past, Shaping the Future (Craig Howes and Jonathan Osorio, eds., August 2010).
  • Restorative Justice for Hawai’i’s First People: Selected Amious Curiae Briefs in Doe v. Kamehameha Schools, 14 Asian Am. L.J. 205 (Serrano, Yamamoto, MacKenzie, & Forman, 2007). HeinOnline | SSRN | ScholarSpace

Selected Presentations

  • Panel Member:  Native Hawaiian Culture, Tradition, and Sovereignty, ABA Section on Litigation, 2018 Winter Leadership Meeting, Honolulu (January 2018).
  • Presentation:  Judicial Independence in Hawaiʻi, Hawaiʻi State Judicial Conference, Honolulu, Hawaiʻi (November 2017).
  • Panel Member:  Decolonization and Statehood: The Hawaiʻi ExperienceDecolonization Discussion Series:  Statehood and Integration in the 21st Century Pacific, University of Guam, Hagnata, Guam (May 2016).
  • Presentation:  Shaping Law in the Hawaiian Kingdom:  The Legacy of Kamehameha III, Celebration of Kauikeaouli, Kamehameha III, Keauhou, Hawaiʻi (March 2016).
  • Presentations for ʻAha 2016 – Native Hawaiian Convention: The Public Land Trustand Native Hawaiians and U.S. Law, Maunawili, Hawaiʻi (February 2016).
  • Presentation:  E Mau Ke Ea: Native Hawaiians and Self-Determination, Symposium Celebrating 45 Years of the Native American Rights Fund, Boulder, Colorado (November 2015).
  • Presentation for Continuing Legal Education Seminar, Hawaiʻi State Bar Association: Native Hawaiians–Understanding Self-Determination Under U.S. Law, Honolulu, Hawaiʻi (August 2015).
  • Panel Member:  Native Hawaiian Law: A Treatise, Hawaiʻi Book & Music Festival (May 2015).
  • Luncheon Speaker:  Native Hawaiians and Sovereignty, Our Ocean Planet: Governance for a Better Future Conference, Honolulu, Hawaiʻi (December 2014).
  • Presentation:  Sovereignty and the Native Hawaiian People – E Mau Ke Ea, Symposium on Current Affairs of Hawaiʻi’s Indigenous People, Center for Ainu and Indigenous Studies, University of Hokkaido, Japan (September 2014).
  • Panel Member:  Sovereignty Endures–E Mau Ke Ea, Symposium: Looking to the Future: The Life and Legacy of Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, National Museum of the American Indian (May 2014).
  • Panel Member:  Canadian First Nations, Native American Indian Tribes, and Native Hawaiians:  Sovereignty and Full Faith & Credit, American Judges Association Annual Education Conference, Kona, Hawaiʻi (September 2013).
  • Panel Member:  Utilizing Indigenous Tradition and Custom in Decision Making, He Haliʻa No Jon, Symposium Tribute to Jon Markham Van Dyke, Honolulu, Hawaiʻi (February 2013).
  • Panel Member:  Law and the Right of Self-Determination, Federal Bar Association Hawai’i Conference, Honolulu, Hawaiʻi (December 2012).
  • Scholar answering questions and providing commentary for the Mai Poina Guided Walking Tours, a free walking tour sponsored by the Hawaiʻi Ponoʻī Coalition, illustrating the events leading up to and during the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom (September 2010-2015).


  • Native Hawaiian Bar Association – Founding member and past President
  • Hikaʻalani – Founding member and current Board member of Native Hawaiian cultural and educational non-profit organization
  • Hālau Mōhala ‘Ilima – 1989 kumu hula graduate, current student and kakoʻo
  • Kailua Hawaiian Civic Club – current Board member


  • Maka Ihe Laumeki Award 2021 – Recognition from the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation for helping to build the foundation for the field of Native Hawaiian Law and advocating for the Native Hawaiian community.
  • ʻŌʻō Award 2020 – Award from the Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce given to “outstanding Native Hawaiians who have made significant contributions to improve their communities and the overall well-being of Native Hawaiians.” 
  •  Robert W. Clopton Award 2020 – Award from the University of Hawaiʻi–Mānoa for Distinguished Community Service.
  • Resolutions from the Hawaiʻi State Legislature Senate and House 2020 – commending Prof. MacKenzie for her “strong commitment to the betterment of our society and advancement of the Native Hawaiian community” and recognizing “her career in advocating for Native Hawaiian issues.” 
  • Native Hawaiian Advocate Award, Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, Honolulu, Hawaiʻi (October 2017)
  • Honoree, Native American Rights Fund 45th Anniversary Celebration, Boulder, Colorado (November 2015).
  • ʻAhahui o Hawaiʻi Native Hawaiian Award of Excellence (September 2013).
  • Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Teaching, University of Hawaiʻi (March 2013)
  • Public Service Award, William S. Richardson School of Law Alumni Association, Honolulu, Hawai‘i  (October 2009).
  • YWCA Leadership Luncheon Awardee (April 2009)
  • Student Choice Award, William S. Richardson School of Law (April 2008)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, Hawai‘i Women Lawyers (March 2006)

Service and Recognition

  • Faculty advisor to the ʻAhahui o Hawaiʻi, the Native Hawaiian law student association (2006 – 2020).
  • One of four faculty advisors to the Asian-Pacific Law and Policy Journal (2006 – 2020.
  • Faculty advisor to the Native American Moot Court team (2012 – 2020).
  • Appointed by the UH President to sit on the UH-Mānoa Chancellor Search Advisory Committee.
  • Co-Chair of the Law School’s Re-Accreditation Committee (2016); Chair of the Law School’s Budget Committee (2014-16); Member of the Law School’s Appointments Committee (2015-16); Member (2010-12) and Chair of the Law School’s Admissions Committee (2012-13).
  • Responsible for Native Hawaiian Law Certificate program.  From 2007-09, eleven students received Pacific-Asian Legal Studies-Specialty in Native Hawaiian Law certificates; since the inception of the stand-alone certificate program in 2010, over 80 students have received Native Hawaiian Law Certificates.
  • Invited Witness:  Presented testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, chaired by U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Akaka, on the trust relationship between the federal government and the Native Hawaiian community (April 2012).
  • National Native American Law Students Association Moot Court Competition – the Law School hosted the competition in February 2012.  Authored the problem, raised funds, oversaw various aspects of the competition, and organized a Symposium: Of Membership and Recognition following the competition itself.
  • Appointed by UH-Mānoa Chancellor to sit on the Native Hawaiian Advancement Task Force to identify strengths and challenges in current programs and recommend actions needed to support advancing Native Hawaiian initiatives at UH-Mānoa (August 2011 – February 2012).

Grants and Contracts

  • Negotiated a $150,000 contract with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) to create materials and curriculum and conduct trainings at least twice a year for members of state and county boards and commissions on Native Hawaiian legal issues and the responsibilities of state entities in relation to Native Hawaiian lands, resources, and cultural practices (2012-13). $70,000 contract extension each year since initial contract (2014-present). 
  • Wrote proposal for and administered a $1.5 million grant under the Native Hawaiian Education Act (NHEA) from the U.S. Dept. of Education (2010-11).
  • Primarily responsible for administering a four-year $750,000 grant from Kamehameha Schools for Ka Huli Ao’s Post-J.D. research fellowship program (2009-13).

Related News

Take a First Peek at the New Law School Clinical Building

Prof. Melody Mackenzie ‘76 Named UH Law School Acting Dean During Dean Avi Soifer’s Fall 2017 Professional Development Leave

Two Outstanding Law Professors Win Top UH-Mānoa Awards

portrait photo






Course #Class TitleSemesterYear