College of Humanities and Social Sciences staff

Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley staff profile picture

Contact details +64 (09) 414 0800  ext. 43088

Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley BA VUW., PGDipArts Otago, DipEd Auckland, MA Otago, MSc Brist., PhD Massey

Pro Vice-Chancellor - College of Humanities and Social Sciences

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Distinguished Professor Spoonley is one of New Zealand's leading academics and a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. He joined the Massey staff in 1979 and was, until becoming Pro Vice-Chancellor in October 2013, the College's Research Director and Auckland Regional Director. 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. He has written or edited 25 books and is a regular commentator in the news media. In 2010, he was a Fulbright Senior Scholar at the University of California Berkeley and in 2013, a Senior Visiting Fellow at the Max Planck Institute of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Goettingen. He was awarded the Royal Society of New Zealand Science and Technology medal in 2009 in recognition of his academic scholarship, leadership and public contribution to cultural understanding  and in 2011, his contribution to Sociology was acknowledged with the Sociological Association of Aotearoa New Zealand's scholarship for exceptional service to New Zealand sociology. In 2013, he was given the title of Distinguished Professor, Massey University's highest academic title.

Distinguished Professor Spoonley is one of New Zealand's leading academics and a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. He joined the Massey staff in 1979 and was, until becoming Pro Vice-Chancellor in October 2013, the College's Research Director and Auckland Regional Director.

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Contact details

  • Ph: 43088
    Location: SGP 3.04B, Sir Geoffrey Peren Building
    Campus: Turitea
  • Ph: 43089
    Location: AT3.47, Atrium
    Campus: Albany


  • Bachelor of Arts - Victoria University of Wellington (1973)
  • Post Graduate Diploma of Arts - University of Otago (1974)
  • Diploma in Education - University of Auckland (1979)
  • Master of Arts - University of Otago (1976)
  • Master of Science - University of Bristol (1978)
  • PhD - Massey University (1986)

Research Expertise

Research Interests



21st Century Citizenship

Area of Expertise

Field of research codes
Demography (160300): Migration (160303): Other Studies in Human Society (169900): Policy and Administration (160500): Population Trends and Policies (160305): Race and Ethnic Relations (160803): Social Policy (160512): Sociology (160800): Studies In Human Society (160000): Studies of Maori Society (169904): Studies of Pacific Peoples' Societies (169905)

Research Projects

Summary of Research Projects

Position Current Completed
Not Specified 0 1
Project Leader 2 19

Completed Projects

Project Title: Nga Tangata Oho Mairangi: Regional Impacts of Demographic and Economic Change

New Zealand is experiencing significant population changes as mobility (immigration, emigration, internal migration) combines with an ageing population to impact on labour supply, community development and a sense of belonging or attachment. These demographic and economic changes vary considerably by region and have markedly different outcomes for rural and urban communities. This research provides a detailed model of the nature of these changes at the regional level over the period 1986 to 2013 and will provide projections out to 2036. In addition, household members, employers and secondary school pupils provide their understandings of demographic and economic change in their communities, and their perceptions of, and responses toward, the implications. These responses are important given recent demographic developments such as increased cultural diversity, the interconnected effects of demographic ageing and mobility/migration on communities, and regional issues of labour supply (including critical skill shortages) and demand as industries/firms grow or decline. In this context, immigration will continue to be an important component of New Zealand¿s future as a way of providing the required skills and to compensate for ageing or emigration. The research seeks to answer questions such as what keeps individuals or households in a particular community or region? What investments do people make in education/training or employment, and how do these relate to current and future employment opportunities, especially locally? What impact does diversity have on social and economic notions of belonging and attachment, and how do employers respond? Answering these questions via complex models and statistical projections as well as interviews to reveal the subjective understandings and strategies of individuals and households will generate a multifaceted and nuanced understanding of demographic and economic change and the implications for New Zealand/New Zealanders.
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Date Range: 2012 - 2016

Funding Body: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Project Team:

Project Title: Sustainable Pathways for New Zealand's Cities and Regions

Our aim is to develop an integrative (economic, social, environmental) scenario modelling capacity in NZ to enable planners and communities to more fully appreciate options for the future of their cities and regions. This builds on our previous FRST programme `Sustainable Pathways 1 (SP1)¿ by introducing two `state-of-the-art¿ modelling methods ¿ `Mediated Modelling¿ and `Spatial-Dynamic Modelling¿. Our programme is therefore specifically designed to fulfil the requirements of SCS Theme 1.3 Urban Information Base ¿integrated decision-making tools/models that assist local, regional and/or national decision-makers in forecasting and assessing future pressures on our cities and settlements¿.Research Programme: Auckland and Wellington are our two case study regions. There are also strong linkages into other cities/regions through our `Advisory Group¿ and two linked programmes.
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Date Range: 2009 - 2017

Funding Body: Foundation for Research, Science & Technology

Project Team:

Project Title: The Economic Integration of Immigrants and Refugees in New Zealand

Date Range: 2007 - 2012

Funding Body: Foundation for Research, Science & Technology

Project Team:

Project Title: Pathways to Sustainable Employment in

Since 2000, one of the growing issues for New Zealand has been the shortage of both skilled and unskilled labour. In addition NZ in experiencing rising unemployment, falling unemployment and ageing population and low birth rates.
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Date Range: 2003 - 2008

Funding Body: Foundation for Research, Science & Technology

Project Team:

Research Outputs


Cain, TM., Spoonley, P., & Meares, C. (2015). Immigrant economies in action: Chinese ethnic precints in Auckland. In G. Ghosh, & J. Leckie (Eds.) Asians and the new multiculturalism in Aotearoa New Zealand.
[Chapter]Authored by: Cain, T., Spoonley, P.

Supervision and Teaching

Summary of Doctoral Supervision

Position Current Completed
Supervisor 1 11
CoSupervisor 0 4

Current Doctoral Supervision

Supervisor of:

  • Yu Wang - PhD
    “Home” in the Third Space: a Cultural Study of Well-educated Chinese Women Immigrants in NZ

Completed Doctoral Supervision

Supervisor of:

  • 2015 - Angel Chan - PhD
    The politics of identity, belonging and exclusion: Chinese immigrant parents' involvement in New Zealand early childhood education
  • 2014 - Prudence Anne Cruickshank - PhD
    Establishing a business in Aotearoa New Zealand: Cultural, human and social capital resources of intentional immigrant entrepreneurs
  • 2010 - Karlo Estelle Mila-Schaaf - PhD
    Polycultural capital and the Pasfika second generation: Negotiating identities in diasporic spaces
  • 2008 - Annette Claire Mortensen - PhD
    Social and Cultural Citizenship Rights for Refugees in the New Zealand Health Services
  • 2008 - Maria Talaitupu Kerslake - PhD
    Maloafua. Structural Adjustment Programs: The Case for Samoa
  • 2007 - Carina Letizia Meares - PhD
    From the Rainbow Nation to the Land of the Long White Cloud: Migration, Gender and Biography
  • 2004 - Mr Samuel William Baird - PhD
    The Transformation of an Icon in the New Economy: A Theoretical and Empirical Exploration of the New Zealand Reforms.
  • 2003 - Mr Andrew Pieter Butcher - PhD
    No Place Like Home?: The Re-entry of East Asian University Students into their Countries of Origin
  • 2003 - Ms Louise Virginia Humpage - PhD
    Closing the Gaps? The Politics of Maori Affairs Policy.
  • 2003 - Mr Allen James Bartley - PhD
    New New Zealanders, or Harbingers of a New transnationalism? : 1.5 generation Asian migrant adolescents in New Zealand
  • 2003 - Mrs Helen Barbara Warren - PhD
    The Janus Influence and Discovering a Life: A Study of People living with co-existing mental health and Substance abuse disorders.

CoSupervisor of:

  • 2005 - Mr Neil Thomas Lunt - PhD
    Contested Inheritance: The Emergence of Social Science Research in New Zealand
  • 2004 - Ms Shirley Avril Bell - PhD
    Relating Maori and Pakeha: the politics of indigenous and settler identities.
  • 2000 - Ms Deborah Gail Spence - PhD
    Prejudice, Paradox and Possibility: Nursing people from cultures other than one's own.
  • 1999 - Mrs Glenda Rowan Irving - PhD
    The Tourism Health Interface in New Zealand: Can the Health Promotion Model Be Applied?

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