Dame Evelyn Stokes received her MA from the University of Canterbury, where she was also a member of the New Zealand Geographical Society. She later travelled to Syracuse in New York to complete her PhD. On returning to New Zealand Evelyn became the first female academic at the University of Waikato and a foundation staff member of the Department of Geography.
Evelyn’s work had a strong focus on Māori culture, resources, language and geography. As a member of the New Zealand Geographic Board, Evelyn had a large input in regaining historical Māori place names and establishing official Māori names for rivers, mountains and localities. She was also a member of the Waitangi Tribunal working on research for the Court and the Māori Land Advisory Committee.