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Prof Ian Fuller staff profile picture

Contact details +64 (06) 356 9099  ext. 84852

Prof Ian Fuller PGCUTL, PhD, BSc(Hons)

Professor in Physical Geography

Doctoral Mentor Supervisor
School of Agriculture and Environment

Associate Dean Research

Dean Research

I arrived at Massey in 2003 having spent 7 years lecturing Physical Geography at Northumbria University (UK), which followed completion of my Ph.D. at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, addressing alluvial response to environmental change in NE Spain. Most of my teaching and research is focused on fluvial geomorphology, particularly river channel dynamics and change. I am co-Director of Innovative River Solutions (www.massey.ac.nz/rivers) and concerned to apply theoretical subject knowledge to provide solutions to issues of river and catchment managament. I am also passionate about student learning through the medium of fieldwork and have an active research profile in the arena of teaching and learning. I serve as a sub-Editor for the Journal of Geography in Higher Education.

Focused in fluvial geomorphology, my research and teaching concentrates on: (i) river channel dynamics and interaction with river habitat; (ii) flood histories and catchment response to environmental change; (iii) slope-channel coupling and catchment connectivity. Within this platform of research there is considerable breadth and diversity, including hazard assessment and impacts on stream ecology. I co-direct Massey's Innovative River Solutions Centre. I also actively engage in pedagogic research and the scholarship of teaching, and was awarded a Vice Chancellor's Teaching Excellence Award in 2015.

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Contact details

  • Ph: 84852
    Location: AHB 3.36B, Ag Hort
    Campus: Turitea


  • Postgraduate Certificate University Teacher and Learning - University of Northumbria (1997)
  • Doctor of Philosophy - University of Wales (1996)
  • Bachelor of Science (First class Honours) - University of Wales (1992)

Certifications and Registrations

  • Licence, Mentor Supervisor, Massey University

Research Expertise

Research Interests

My research interests in fluvial geomorphology span the Holocene by addressing (i) slope-channel coupling in eroding steepland environments and the contribution of gully mass movement complexes to the catchment sediment cascade at a seasonal to annual timescale, (ii) channel dynamics and sediment transfers in gravelly rivers over annual and multi-decadal timescales and their application to river management, (iii) alluvial / flood histories and river responses to climate forcing at centennial and millennial timescales.

Research in student pedagogy has focused on the role of fieldwork in student learning, as well as the nexus between teaching and research.

Research Opportunities

  • River Habitat Quality Assessment, Manawatu catchment  (01/11/2018) Assessing geomorphic condition and habitat quality in rivers throughout the Manawatu region using a Habitat Quality Index
  • Geomorphic change and river management, Rangitikei River  (01/11/2018) Assessing patterns and controls of decadal channel change in the Rangitikei to inform river management
  • Flood histories  (01/11/2018) Development of flood histories using sedimentary archives in selected catchments
  • Fingerprinting floodplain sedimentary archives  (01/11/2019) Investigating the origin of sediment preserved in floodplain sediment archives in catchments including the Whanganui and Manawatu using geochemistry fingerprinting
  • Quantifying geomorphic change and sediment transfers in steep catchments  (01/11/2018) Using Structure from Motion photogrammetry to assess erosion and sediment transfers derived from morphological budgeting in selected steepland catchments.
  • Quantifying valley response to climate variability and glacier retreat, West Coast Glaciers  (01/11/2018) Using SfM Photogrammetry to quantify geomorphic change in Fox and Franz Josef proglacial valleys in response to rapid glacier retreat


Resource Development and Management

Area of Expertise

Field of research codes
Earth Sciences (040000): Geomorphology and Regolith and Landscape Evolution (040601): Natural Hazards (040604): Palaeoclimatology (040605): Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience (040600): Quaternary Environments (040606): Surface Processes (040607)


Fluvial geomorphology; river channel dynamics; gravel bed rivers; sediment budget; flood histories; alluvial histories; catchment response to environmental change; slope-channel coupling; catchment connectivity; river resilience. 

Scholarship of teaching; pedagogic research; fieldwork in student learning; graduate attributes

Research Projects

Summary of Research Projects

Position Current Completed
Project Leader 5 22
Team Member 0 1

Completed Projects

Project Title: Kia haumako ana nga awa tawhito o ngaruahine

Date Range: 2015 - 2017

Funding Body: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Project Team:

Project Title: Pre-impoundment river dynamics, Makaroro River

Geomorphology, Hydrology, Ecology: In light of the proposed dam on the Makaroro River, baseline data quantifying natural changes in the geomorphology, hydrology and ecology of the river during the course of 2013 were obtained. This will provide a yardstick against which dam impacts can be assessed in the event of dam construction as part of the Ruataniwha irrigation scheme.
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Date Range: 2013 - 2013

Funding Body: Massey University

Project Team:

Project Title: South Island Flood Histories

Physical Geography & Geomorphology: River bank exposures in Southland and NW Nelson rivers provided an opportunity to recover organic material for radiocarbon dating of floodplains to establish flood histories at a recent and prehistoric timescale at the top and bottom of the South Island. These dates contribute to understanding more broadly how NZ's rivers have responded to past climate change, to better predict future river behaviour. The far north of the South Island is affected most severely by storms tracking south from the subtropical Pacific, while the far south is more affected by storms tracking east and north-east from the Tasman Sea and Southern Ocean.
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Date Range: 2012 - 2012

Funding Body: Massey University

Project Team:

Project Title: 14C dating of Northland alluvium

Physical Geography & Geomorphology: Radiocarbon dating provided a means of linking river behaviour as measured by floodplain mapping and coring with records of climate change. Organic material (wood, charcoal) recovered from Northland floodplains was dated using radiocarbon dating. This enabled us to date key periods of past river activity and flooding, which in turn helps us to link these flooding episodes with past climate reconstructions.
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Date Range: 2010 - 2011

Funding Body: Massey University

Project Team:

Project Title: Northland rivers and climate change

Physical Geography & Geomorphology: This was the first detailed investigation of river histories in Northland. Mapping and coring floodplains permitted an assessment of river behaviour over prehistoric timescales and linked river behaviour with climate change. Mapping identified a series of river terraces (old floodplain levels) in the Northland valleys investigated, and coring revealed what these terraces were made of, which tells us what the rivers were like when these former floodplains were formed. This tells us how these rivers have changed over time in response to climate change.
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Date Range: 2009 - 2010

Funding Body: Massey University

Project Team:

Project Title: Dynamics of a gully complex

Physical Geography & Geomorphology: A large gully complex (Tarndale Slip) in the Waipaoa catchment was mapped using ground survey and terrestrial laser scanning to provide a comprehensive assessment of change in the gully system and sediment transfers between sections of the gully and the fan to which it connects. This is important because it helps us understand the linkages between slopes and channels in erosion-prone terrain, and the way that channels in particular respond to sediment delivered, or withheld from adjacent slopes.
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Date Range: 2007 - 2008

Funding Body: Massey University

Project Team:

Research Outputs

Consultancy and Languages


  • January 2018 - June 2018 - Ministry for Environment
    Potential indicators of river habitat modification for national monitoring
  • January - June 2018 - Tasman District Council
    A framework and pilot study for assessing geomorphological monitoring of rivers in the Tasman District
  • September 2017 - May 2018 - Horizons Regional Council
    Oroua LiDAR analysis and geomorphic change
  • December 2016 - December 2017 - Greater Wellington Regional Council
    Assessing impacts of channel widening in the Waikanae River using an eNCI approach
  • March - October 2016 - Tasman District Council
    Motueka River Corridor review
  • January - December 2016 - Greater Wellington Regional Council
    Hutt River flood histories
  • March - December 2015 - Greater Wellington Regional Council
    Partnership in Catchment Solutions: Ruamahanga review
  • January - June 2014 - Auckland Regional Council
    Oakley Creek Restoration Project
  • November 2013 ongoing - Horizons Regional Council
    Kahuterawa Stream Biodiversity Project
  • August 2013 - Auckland Regional Council
    Review of Stormwater Management Flows policy document
  • October 2012 ongoing - Greater Wellington Regional Council
    Science Advisor - River Management Consents
  • May - October 2012 - Pacific Farms Ltd
    Defining the characteristics of a river channel
  • September - December 2012 - Horizons Regional Council
    Turitea Sediment Starvation Report
  • April - July 2012 - Pacific Farms Ltd
    Opinion: Silt runoff, Pacific Drive Gullies
  • March - June 2012 - Pacific Farms Ltd
    Quantifying runoff to Johnstone Drive Gully
  • July 2011- May 2012 - Forest & Bird
    Expert Opinion: river geomorphology, Mokihinui Hydro Proposal
  • January - March 2010 - Fish & Game (Wellington Region)
    Waingawa River historic channel change
  • 2010 - Fish & Game (Wellington Region)
    Definition of river natural character, Horizons Region
  • 2008 - Fish & Game (Wellington Region)
    Rangitikei River historic channel change
  • 2006 - Department of Conservation
    Kaupokonui Stream: Geomorphological Appraisal
  • 2005 - Stansborough Farm
    Assessment of Kaiwhata River channel change

Teaching and Supervision

Teaching Statement

Papers in Physical Geography sit alongside my research interests and are informed by my recent and current research. Fieldwork underpins my approach to effective teaching and learning in Physical Geography. This signature pedagogy engages students in learning by doing to build their confidence as learners, researchers and practitioners. My connections with stakeholders reinforce this commitment to making my papers as relevant to students as possible. Course design and improvements are grounded in research and informed by reflective practice. The papers I am involved with in the Physical Geography programme are geared to producing work ready students.  As a "scholar teacher" my contribution to the discipline by way of research into teaching practice reinforces my commitment not only to students and colleagues, but also to excellence in teaching and learning generally.

Courses Coordinated

Summary of Doctoral Supervision

Position Current Completed
Supervisor 2 5
Co-supervisor 3 2

Current Doctoral Supervision

Supervisor of:

  • Raphael Spiekermann - Doctor of Philosophy
    Testing the performance of biophysical erosion control in New Zealand’s pastoral hill country
  • Will Conley Jr - Doctor of Philosophy
    Channel change and sediment transfers in the Ruamahanga catchment: a multi-scalar approach

Co-supervisor of:

  • Forrest Williams - Doctor of Philosophy
    Towards empirically-validated models of sediment delivery from large landslides.
  • Emma Cody - Doctor of Philosophy
    Quantifying hillslope response to glacier retreat; landslide failure mechanics, processes, and impacts
  • Jake Robinson - Doctor of Philosophy
    Developing Sediment Fingerprinting Techniques for the Whanganui Catchment, New Zealand.

Completed Doctoral Supervision

Supervisor of:

  • 2018 - Andrew Neverman - Doctor of Philosophy
    Quantifying bed stability: the missing tool for establishing mechanistic hydrological limits
  • 2017 - Simon Vale - Doctor of Philosophy
    Application and Evaluation of Sediment Fingerprinting Techniques in the Manawatu River Catchment, New Zealand
  • 2013 - Jane Richardson - Doctor of Philosophy
    Are the Northland rivers of New Zealand in synchrony with global Holocene climate change?
  • 2013 - Clare Robertson - Doctor of Philosophy
    Temporal evolution of the termini and subaqueous morphologies of lake-calving glaciers in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park, New Zealand
  • 2011 - Alastair Clement - Doctor of Philosophy
    Holocene sea-level change in the New Zealand archipelago and the geomorphic evolution of a Holocene coastal plan incised-valley system: The lower Manawatu valley, North Island, New Zealand

Co-supervisor of:

  • 2019 - Yen Dinh - Doctor of Philosophy
    The effects of hydrological and nutrient disturbance on stream invertebrate communities using a trait-based approach
  • 2011 - Christopher Schwendel - Doctor of Philosophy
    The influence of stream bed stability and channel dynamics on lotic ecosystems: Measurement and methodological advances

Media and Links


  • 27 Jul 2017 - Radio, Online
    Councils urged to avoid building on floodplains
  • 27 Apr 2017 - Newspaper, Online
    Manawatu Gorge Slips: citation
  • 26 Sep 2018 - Newspaper, Online
    Horizons Regional Council uses RMA to speed up Ran
  • 26 May 2017 - Online
    Pollution & climate change: election 2017 opinion
  • 25 Jul 2015 - Newspaper, Online
    Preparing for next flood
    Extended citation / interview
  • 23 Feb 2016 - Online, Newspaper
    Whanganui floods - report on public lecture
  • 18 Apr 2017 - Newspaper, Online
    Lies, dam(ned) lies and flood statistics
    Opinion Editorial
  • 06 Jun 2017 - Newspaper, Online
    Water, water everywhere - serious issues to solve
    Water, water everywhere - serious issues to solve on climate change, water quality
  • 04 May 2018 - Newspaper, Online
    Not in our backyard: Kāpiti council says it's not

Other Links

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