Research profiles

Some of the current students undertaking research. 

Wequas ALI

Title:                   The role of environmental assessment in the decision-making for large-scale infrastructure projects; A case study of New Zealand's Tukituki Catchment

Supervisors:       Associate Professor Christine Cheyne, Dr Jeff McNeill

Programme:        PhD Resource and Environmental Planning                                                                                                                                                                    

Abstract:             Large-scale infrastructure projects more often than not incur environmental damages and social consequences. To minimize negative externalities of such projects most countries around the world mandate the implementation of environmental assessment (EA) before approving the project. However, the widespread adoption of EA does not necessarily ensure its successful application in safeguarding the environment through influencing project decision-making. In fact, the efficacy of such a mechanism is increasingly questioned after witnessing environmental degradation caused by these projects across the globe. This study reviews the role of EA in permitting large-scale infrastructure projects using New Zealand’s Tukituki Catchment Proposal (TCP) as a case study. The TCP includes country’s biggest proposed irrigation dam, the Ruataniwha water storage scheme, and a catchment specific plan change to the Hawke's Bay Regional Resource Management Plan.


Title:             Overcoming language barriers in early childhood education

Supervisor:  Dr Corrina Tucker

Programme: MA Sociology

Abstract:      New Zealand’s increasingly heterogeneous population places manifold demands on the education sector to educate and integrate children who do not speak English. Children of migrant background attending early childhood settings are assumed to benefit in English language obtainment from attending early years educational facilities, but does the mere placement in such settings achieve the desired outcome? Limited research exists into how minority language children acquire English whilst attending preschool settings, how this impacts on their first language, or on how teachers support their second language development. There is little insight into what motivates teachers in their interactions and decision-making, how they adjust teaching content, and whether they engage in language-specific teaching activities at all. To address this gap, this study considers questions regarding the relationship between early childhood teachers’ knowledge of second language acquisition and the type of support they report implementing. I investigate educators’ views and reported practices, as well as the influence of professional training, institutional policies, and philosophies. This research used a qualitative perspective and was benchmarked against comparative reflections of my own teaching experience. The inductive methodology involved semi-structured interviews of early childhood practitioners, covering a selection of educational settings in the Wellington region that practise distinct philosophies. Results show that teachers rely on their centres’ philosophies and socio-cultural practices as per Te Whāriki - the New Zealand curriculum - in their work with minority language children. The consensus was that early childhood education is to prepare language foundations through emotional confidence and cultural capability, not to set academic standards, and children’s perceived natural ability to learn by osmosis is accorded much credence. These findings suggest that teachers’ knowledge regarding complex language and cognitive processes could be significantly improved. Furthermore, support for te reo Māori and Pasifika first languages in New Zealand notwithstanding, practices tend to facilitate institutionalized monolingualism. Future research in all migrant language learning would add to the knowledge base about second language acquisition in New Zealand and the role of early childhood education in this dynamic. As well, there is scope for a discussion on language inequities and the possibilities of a plurilingual society.

Philippa BUTLER

Title:                Multiple ethnic identities in senior secondary school students in New Zealand

Supervisors:    Dr Robyn Andrews, Professor Margaret Walshaw, Dr Avril Bell (University of Auckland)

Abstract:           In New Zealand, the number of people who identify with more than one ethnicity is increasing. This is particularly true for adolescents. However, there is little understanding of what identifying with multiple ethnicities means for those people. Using a national survey and fieldwork in one secondary school, this research examines the multiple ethnic identities of senior secondary school students, by focusing on how they identify themselves, why they identify themselves in this way, and what their ethnic identities mean for them.

Jessica HALLEY

Title:                   Performing Identity: Young Bhutanese refugee women in Palmerston North

Supervisors:        Dr Sita Venkateswar, Dr Carolyn Morris

Programme:        MA Social Anthropology

Abstract:            My fieldwork involved “hanging out” with a family of young refugee women living in Palmerston North. Using participant observation, semi structured interviews and visual ethnographic methodologies, my findings revealed the multilayered and complex world these young women occupy. This world comprises of various social fields that exist both online, and throughout Palmerston North. By exploring concepts of identity and subjectivity this research seeks to understand the relationships between these young women and the complicated world they are a part of. My findings problematize universal notions that the identities of young refugees are a “singular” or “fixed reality” centred around their inherent “refugeeness”.  Alternatively this research endeavours to bring to light the enabling factors that allow these young women to negotiate the subjective and complicated process of “growing up”

Nicholas HAIG

Title:             Affective Public Pedagogy and the Ethics of Memorialisation in the Museum: An Enquiry into the exhibition Gallipoli: The scale of our war at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Supervisors: Dr Susan Abasa, Professor Michael Roche

Programme: MA Museum Studies

Abstract:       In April 2015, Gallipoli: The scale of our war opened at Te Papa Tongarewa. A central showpiece in Aotearoa’s WW1 centennial commemorations, it was created via an entrepreneurial partnership with special effects company Weta Workshop and has been described as providing the visitor with an ‘emotional journey’. Framed against a backdrop of the ongoing global ‘memory boom’ and an attendant rise in practices of memorialisation, Gallipoli: The scale of our war is immersive, theatrical and experientially affective. Utilising inductive processes and an auto-ethnographic methodology, in this thesis I investigate the construction, reception and implications of the exhibition. I inquire into the ideological configurations informing its conception and into the cultural assumptions it promulgates, and consider what this exhibition – with its deployment of an ‘affective public pedagogy’ – might suggest about how Te Papa interprets and performs its public service role. An ‘emotional journey’, in other words, to what ends?


Title:                 Voice, Scale and Marine Management: Indonesian Small-Scale Fishers in Coral Triangle Initiative

Supervisors:     Associate Professor Christine Cheyne, Dr Jeff McNeill

Programme:     PhD Resource and Environmental Planning

Abstract:          Marine management across the whole world has going through significant changes following increasing depletion of marine resources. The main change is the upscaling of power from community level to national, regional and global levels. It is believed that the change can results in increasing efficiency and effectiveness of marine institutions across jurisdictional and geographical scales. However, it also results in diminishing autonomy of small-scale fishers over the resources they have traditionally managed over generation. This research examine how can the voices of small-scale fishers be incorporated in marine management policy in Coral Triangle Region with case study in Indonesia.

Hanny Savitri HARTONO

Title:                   Making boundaries: Javanese urban middle-class women negotiating media within their roles as Muslim mothers

Supervisors:        Dr Graeme Macrae, Associate Professor Sharyn Graham Davies (AUT)

Programme:        PhD Social Anthropology

Abstract:             Through this ethnographic study I seek to document, understand and analyse the ideas and practices of urban middle-class Javanese Muslim women who are juggling and negotiating their lives as mothers where media are part of their own and their children's everyday lives.

2012 Book review of New Zealand’s Muslims and multiculturalism, by Erich Kolig, Leiden: Brill, 2010, SITES, 9 (2).



Title:             Iranian women in New Zealand: Their motivations for immigration and trends of Westernisation or acculturation

Supervisors: Associate Professor Grant Duncan, Professor Kathryn Rountree, Dr Negar Partow

Programme: PhD Politics

Abstract:      This study aims to elicit the main motivations of Iranian women who have come to NZ, and to assess the relative importance of factors such as desire for socio-political freedom, gender equality, or educational and financial opportunities. Moreover, this study investigates the post-migration experiences of these women. The main objective of this research is to show how the interactions of political and social factors in the origin and host societies affect the lives of female immigrants from Iran. This research involves an interdisciplinary approach that combines investigation of political factors with ethnographic field work among members of the NZ Iranian community. The research methods include observation and semi-structured in-depth interviews with 20 to 30 Iranian women.


Title:                Institutionalised Racism in Auckland, New Zealand: barriers to pursuing happiness experienced by members of ethnic minorities. 

Supervisor:      Dr Corrina Tucker

Programme:     MA Sociology

Abstract:          An exploration of the role of law and public policy in post-colonial multicultural New Zealand and the resulting impact on the level of equality experienced by members of ethnic minorities, including their access to related freedoms. This investigation is predominantly via a quantitative study of institutionalised racism, utilizing barriers to pursuing happiness as the primary indicator. Specifically, questions of equality for ethnic minorities is being explored through a survey of six ethnic groups in Auckland, by first establishing their definitions of happiness and subsequently assessing whether their ability to pursue their own version of happiness has been constrained by any state institution. 


Title:             Escape to the beach: pre-retirement in-migrants narratives of change, place and identity

Supervisor:  Dr Corrina Tucker

Programme: MA Sociology

Abstract:      The pre-retirement cohort (45-65 years) that migrates within Aotearoa New Zealand remains largely ignored in social research. This cohort encompasses people experiencing an emergent mid-life life-stage characterized by increased fluidity between previously distinct phases such as work and retirement. Once relocated, in-migrants seek ways to become endogenous actors in their new locale and construct new identities. A change of habitus is required to successfully navigate the transition from city-dweller to ‘local’. One avenue to achieve this is to engage with local volunteer organisations for the development of attachment to place, identity and for the re-narration of life-meaning. This qualitative research took place in Mercury Bay on the Coromandel Peninsula, Aotearoa New Zealand, with pre-retirees who in-migrated from city locations and who sought volunteer roles in local community organisations. My initial exploration looked to understand how social capital is manifest for these individuals in their volunteer roles in their new location. Findings suggest the existence of a paradox within that development of social capital: participants’ narratives indicate that they unconsciously seek to reproduce the very conditions from which they sought to escape, as associated with urban stressors such as workplace stress, urban pressures, financial considerations, social isolation  and the demands for ‘efficiency’ of new-capitalist workplaces. More particularly, the paradox plays out in the development of new forms of habitus by which participants might embed themselves within the community.


Title:              Entanglements and disentanglements: A posthuman approach to mercury use in artisanal and small-scale gold mining in Antioquia, Colombia

Supervisors:  Dr Trisia Farrelly, Associate Professor Glenn Banks

Programme:  MA Social Anthropology

Abstract:        In this thesis I am using an anthropological and posthuman approach to understand the problem of mercury use for gold extraction by artisanal and small scale gold miners in Antioquia, Colombia. I am examining the way that mercury has become entangled in the industry, allowing a relatively efficient yet informal industry to thrive. I have also been looking at attempts to reduce mercury consumption, which have involved a change in miners’ worldview with regards to how they approach mining. The attempts to reduce mercury use have been highly political, and are complicit in the creation of new and unjust politico-economic relations. This research has produced a number of theoretical challenges, including the nature of human/mercurial entanglements, how to understand change, and the relationships between worldview, practices and materials.


Title:Creating a deeper experience of identity, humanity and historical knowledge and understanding through the interpretative use of socio-historical personal narratives.

Supervisor: Dr Susan Abasa

Programme: MA Museum Studies

Abstract: As the world plunges further into the depths of what theologian Dr. Carl Trueman would call, a modern state of ‘anti-tradition’, humans need to embrace and utilise strategies which create and impart empathy and ‘affect’. I propose that through the use of aural personal narratives in spaces of cultural and historical interpretation, museums can create ‘affect’ and civic empowerment. The phenomena of ‘affect’ as a result of both listening and telling has the capacity to build and sustain collectivity as well as personal identity within geographic space and has the ability to  nourish humanity and historical knowledge and understanding.


High Street Stories (Christchurch, New Zealand) website and augmented reality app. ( / High Street Stories on google play store.

 ‘There’s nothing to See Here’ - Rebuilding Memories of Place through Personal Narratives - The Place of Memory and Memory of Place Interdisciplinary Conference, Warsaw, Poland (October, 2015).

Suryani Eka WIJAYA

Title:                  Multi-level policy tensions in medium-sized low-income Asian cities:  The governance of climate change and transport in Indonesia. 

Supervisors:      Associate Professor Imran Muhammad, Dr Jeff McNeill

Programme:      PhD Resource and Environmental Planning

Abstract:           This research aims to identify multi-level policy tensions in relation to different or conflicting objectives between urban transport and climate change policies in medium-sized low-income Asian cities. The framework employs the multi-level governance theory to find fresh conceptualisation in the urban transportation and climate change policy-making process. Bandung and Surabaya in Indonesia have been selected as case studies to explore the challenges in governance, specifically the relationships between various dimensions of power (economic power, socio-political power, discursive power) and legitimacy concerns (participation and communication) among stakeholders at various different levels and their networks. The research design is based on the published policy and planning documents and semi-structured interviews with the policy makers, politician, urban planners, transport planners, officials from international development agencies, experts, consultants, civil society and non-government actors. The research attempts to reveal the causes of policy tensions by examining where in the decision-making process and in the government level the tension exist. The finding will help local policy makers, urban planners, and transport planners in improving policy and planning practice for developing sustainable urban transportation in the midst of climate change issues. The research attempts to develop insights and bring new light to public policy, climate change, and transport literature in the context of LIA cities. 

Virginia WINTERS

Title:             What we're doing in the dirt

Supervisors: Dr Carolyn Morris, Dr Corrina Tucker

Programme:  PhD Social Anthropology

Abstract:       My research explores the motivations, expectations and aspirations of community gardeners.  It considers how these are affected by gardeners’ experiences of participation in community gardens. I am interested in the way in which gardens shape their gardeners and surrounding areas; the dynamics of establishing a garden; the enabling and constraining role of local institutions in policy fields such as health, welfare, planning and environment; the balance of leisure and production in the gardens, environmental aesthetics and social justice principles; and whether gardening practices change the consumption patterns of participants. I am gathering data through participant observation in three community gardens in Palmerston North, through a full growing year.




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