Issues experts

As well as a strong line-up of political commentators, Massey has a range of researchers who are experts in their field and keen to comment on key election issues.

Our issues experts include regular media commentators like sociologist Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley on employment and immigration, Associate Professor David Tripe on monetary policy and interest rates and Professor Ralph Sims on the environment and climate change.

The following list of experts can be contacted for an independent, critically thought-out view on the impact of policy proposals on the economy, society and the future of New Zealand.

Click on a link below for the experts full details


Climate change: Ralph Sims

Professor Ralph Sims is a member of Science and Technology Advisory Panel of the Global Environment Facility, a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and a senior analyst for the International Energy Agency. Professor Sims is an expert on greenhouse gas emission reduction potentials from transport, renewable energy policies, biomass, bioenergy and biofuels, climate change mitigation and sustainable development.

Phone: (06) 356 9099 ext. 84164
Mobile: 021 166 4555

Economics, innovation, trade: Christoph Schumacher

Christoph Schumacher is a Professor in Innovation and Economics. He has a particular interest in how innovation can be fostered to grow New Zealand’s economy but can also provide commentary on economic development, New Zealand’s economic performance, trade, privatisation and the impact of the minimum wage.

Phone: (09) 414 0800 ext. 41661
Mobile: 021 883 509

Education: John O’Neill

Professor John O’Neill is the Associate Director for Research in the Institute of Education.

He began his education career as a teacher of primary and secondary school children with special educational needs in the UK. He has been an elected Council member of the New Zealand Association for Research in Education. His research interests include the relationships between educational policy and teachers’ work, and he contributes regularly to media debates on issues such as charter schools, public private partnerships, education policy and funding, teaching and learning standards and university governance.

Phone:   06 356 9099 ext. 84384
Mobile: 021 535 001

Employment relations, wages: Jane Parker

Jane Parker is Professor of Employment Relations and Human Resource Management in Massey’s School of Management. Her research focuses on comparative employment relations, equality and diversity in workplaces and trade unions. Professor Parker is also a co-director of the MPOWER (Massey People, Organisation, Work and Employment) research hub, which aims to address the key issues faced by organisations and workers in New Zealand. MPOWER is currently undertaking a comprehensive research project looking at the benefits, costs and perceptions of a living wage.

Phone: (09) 414 0800 ext. 43393

Environment: Dr Mike Joy

Dr Mike Joy is an outspoken advocate for environmental protection in New Zealand and has received a number of awards including an Ecology in Action award from the NZ Ecological Society and an Old Blue Award from the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society. He was named 2009 Environmental New Zealander of the Year by North and South magazine and named 2012 Person of the Year by the Manawatu Evening Standard. Dr Joy works in Massey’s Institute of Agriculture & Environment and his research focuses on freshwater ecology, especially freshwater fish ecology and distribution, ecological modelling bio-assessment and environmental science.

Phone: (06) 356 0900 ext. 84834
Mobile: 021 936 205

Foreign affairs: Dr Anna Powles

Dr Anna Powles is the current New Zealand affiliate for WIIS (Women In International Security) as well as a senior lecturer in international relations at Massey’s Centre for Defence and Security Studies. Dr Powles has previously held positions advising on security issues in Timor Leste, conducted humanitarian response evaluations for Norwegian Refugee Council, Oxfam International, and World Vision International. She has undertaken research projects with King's College London Humanitarian Futures Programme on post-conflict recovery in the Solomon Islands and is an Alumni Fellow of the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Phone: (04) 801 5799 ext. 63080
Mobile: 022 122 8802

Health: Paul McDonald

Professor Paul McDonald is the head of Massey University’s College of Health, which includes programmes in food science, human nutrition, sport and exercise science, nursing, social services, Māori health, public and occupational health. He is most interested in finding solutions to help New Zealand achieve long-term improvements in cost and health outcomes.

Phone: (09) 414 0800 ext. 43078
Mobile: 021 971 015

Jobs and immigration: Paul Spoonley

Distinguished Professor Spoonley is an eminent sociologist who has written or edited more than 25 books on race, immigration, employment, national identity and population issues in New Zealand and global contexts. He has led numerous externally funded research programmes, including the Ministry of Science and Innovation's $3.2 million Integration of Immigrants, and the $800,000 Nga Tangata Oho Mairangi, funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. The project is examining significant demographic and economic changes In New Zealand, including factors that will alter the shape and nature of communities and have an impact on economic development. It provides a detailed model of the nature of these changes at the regional level from 1986 to 2013, with projections out to 2036. Professor Spoonley is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, and a frequent public speaker and media commentator on population, immigration and related social and political issues.

Phone: 09 414 0800 extn.43088
Mobile: 021 422 881

KiwiSaver and personal finance: Claire Matthews

Dr Claire Matthews’ research interests include retail banking, the provision of financial advice, and financial literacy, with a particular focus on consumers’ financial choices, KiwiSaver, switching costs, internet banking and payment systems. Dr Matthews’ is a board member of the Fin-Ed Centre (Financial Education and research Centre, a joint venture between Massey and Westpac) as well as a director of the New Zealand Association of Credit Unions. She has written several reports on KiwiSaver and the Retirement Expenditure Guidelines.

Phone: (06) 356 9099 ext. 84035
Mobile: 021 548 772

Māori health: Te Kani Kingi

Associate Professor Te Kani Kingi is the director of Te Mata o Te Tau, Massey’s Academy for Māori Research and Scholarship. His research areas include Māori mental health and Māori development, health and social outcomes. Dr Kingi sits on several national and international boards, was recently appointed to the Glenn Inquiry on child abuse and domestic violence, and is chair of the New Zealand Mental Health Commission.

Phone: (04) 801 5799 ext. 63074
Mobile: 021 223 6008

Māori politics: Veronica Tawhai

Veronica Tawhai lectures in Māori policy and politics and is actively involved in Māori politics. She co-edited the book Weeping Waters: The Treaty of Waitangi and Constitutional Change and was awarded the 2013 Fulbright-Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga Scholar Award to engage with other indigenous political educators in the United States.

Phone: (06) 356 9099 ext. 84365
Mobile: 027 305 4882

Monetary policy and banking: David Tripe

Associate Professor David Tripe is the director of Massey University’s Centre for Financial Services and Markets. He is a regular media commentator on banking, interest rates and monetary policy issues. In the run-up to this year’s election he believes the Reserve Bank’s macroprudential policies, particularly their effect on the housing market, will be a hot topic.

Phone: (06) 356 9099 ext. 84038
Mobile: 021 675 054

Pasifika politics: Malakai Koloamatangi

Associate Professor Malakai Koloamatangi is the current Director of Pasifika at Massey. He is a regular media commentator and is highly involved in the Pasifika community. He is able to comment on all areas of Pasifika politics, including Pasifika policies, candidates, voting trends and cultural issues.

Phone: (09) 414 0800 ext. 41433
Mobile: 021 223 6008

Taxation: Patrick Flannery

Patrick Flannery lectures in taxation at Massey’s Albany campus. He is a lawyer with over 20 years’ experience in the taxation field and his current areas of research include the utility (or otherwise) of the proposed capital gains tax in addressing perceived over-investment in residential property in New Zealand. Mr Flannery says taxation is one area where the main political parties have very differing policies. National is offering more of the same, while Labour's 15 per cent capital gains tax and its proposal to make Kiwisaver contributions compulsory and use contribution rates as a monetary tool would be the most significant changes to the New Zealand tax system since the introduction of GST.

Phone: (09) 414 0800 ext: 43287
Mobile: 021 626 157


Treaty settlements: Michael Belgrave

Professor Michael Belgrave is a historian with over 25 years’ experience of Treaty of Waitangi claims and settlement process, as well as expertise on New Zealand race relations. His 2005 book, Historical Frictions: Māori claims and reinvented histories, delved into the history behind claims and the way the legal system deals with Māori history. He has been working on a range of research topics in recent times, including historical accounts of claimants in the Hauraki negotiations with the Crown and a book on peace making after the Waikato War of 1863 and 1864 and the opening up of the King Country. He also researches New Zealand’s social policy and health history, including social work in schools.

Phone: 09 414 0800 extn. 41593
Mobile: 027 495 8395

Conservation: Dianne Brunton

Professor Dianne Brunton is Director of the Ecology, Behaviour and Conservation Group within the Institute of Natural and Mathematical Sciences at the Albany Campus of Massey University. She leads a thriving postgraduate research group primarily focused on the ecology and conservation of New Zealand native species.  

Her own research combines conservation biology, animal behaviour, and the evolution and ecology of animal communication, areas in which she has published widely. She is a leading researcher and international collaborator on avian cultural evolution, and provides expertise in community conservation efforts, engaging with professional and community groups and encouraging student involvement in a wide range of research projects.

Professor Brunton is currently Chair of the Conservation Fund Committee at Auckland Zoo and has international collaborations with Cornell University, University of California, Berkeley, and is the recipient of two Marsden Fund awards. She is able to comment on threatened and endangered species issues, conservation biology, science sustainability, and women in science.

Phone: (09) 414 0800 ext. 41192
Mobile: 027 244 8270


Local government and transport: Christine Cheyne

Associate Professor Christine Cheyne leads Massey's Resource and Environmental Planning programme and supervises postgraduate research on sustainability topics related to transport, climate change, agriculture, and the contribution of indigenous people and their values to sustainable development.

Her research interests include sustainable transport and its links to climate change; decision-making for sustainability, local government reform; and food security. A local government specialist, she is particularly interested in leadership, planning and implementation of sustainability by local government. She has also been a member of a Conservation Board since 2004 and is actively involved in protection, restoration, and enhancement of New Zealand’s indigenous biodiversity.

Phone: (06) 356 9099 ext. 83630
Mobile: 021 246 7095


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