About the NZIPR – Leading and Supporting Pacific Research

The New Zealand Institute for Pacific Research is a collaboration by three of New Zealand’s universities, with partners both within New Zealand and throughout the Pacific.

With relationships with the University of the South Pacific, the Australian National University, Peking University, the University of Hawaii, the Secretariat for the Pacific Community and with other clusters of research expertise, it draws upon a broad range of capacities.

Key support partners are the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Pacific Cooperation Foundation.

Associate Professor Yvonne Underhill-Sem

Director: Associate Professor Yvonne Underhill-Sem

Yvonne Te Ruki Rangi o Tangarao is a is a Cook Island, Nuiean, New Zealander with close family ties to Papua New Guinea. She is Associate Professor in Development Studies in the School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, University of Auckland. She was Director of Development Studies from 2007 to 2014.

Yvonne publishes in the broad areas of gender and development, Pacific development and feminist political ecology. Before she joined the University of Auckland in 2004, Yvonne taught at University of Papua New Guinea and briefly at Australian National University; she worked as a development expert at the Africa Caribbean Pacific Secretariat in Brussels; and she worked for a global feminist research network (DAWN) while she was living in Papua New Guinea and Samoa.

She is currently Co-Chair of Oxfam NZ; is a lead researcher focusing on labour markets in the Pacific for (NZIPR); the Co-Chair of the Research Advisory Group for the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development (PWSPD) initiative funded by Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Yvonne is a member of the Marsden Social Science panel and is the Deputy Chair of the Pacific PBRF panel.

Advisory Board

Professor Richard Bedford

Professor Richard Bedford

Professor Richard (Dick) Bedford QSO, FRSNZ is Emeritus Professor at the University of Waikato and the Auckland University of Technology and President of the Royal Society Te Apārangi (Royal Society of New Zealand). He is a population geographer who specializes in migration research and since the mid-1960s he has been researching processes of population movement and demographic change in the Asia-Pacific region. His major research interests are circular forms of population mobility within and between countries, immigration policy, and the relationships between population movement and social and economic transformation in rural and urban areas in New Zealand and the Pacific. He is an adviser to the New Zealand Immigration Service’s Pacifica Labour and Skills Unit and chair of the Governance Group for the Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities National Science Challenge. His current research focuses on implications for New Zealand and Australia of population developments and migration trends in the Asia-Pacific region over the next 30-40 years, including the impact of climate change on migration.

Patrick Vakaoti

Dr Patrick Vakaoti

Patrick Vakaoti is Associate Dean (Pacific), Division of Humanities and Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Otago. He researches in Fiji and the Pacific exploring youth issues like street-frequenting and political participation. His work extends to consultancy research where he has worked with organizations like UNICEF Pacific, Pacific Leadership Programme (DFAT) and the Pacific Community. Patrick is active in the community and currently serves on the Board of Pacific Trust Otago.

Dr Tamasailau Suaalii-Sauni

Associate Professor Tamasailau Suaalii-Sauni

Tamasailau Suaalii-Sauni is an Associate Professor in Sociology and Criminology at the University of Auckland, her alma mater. She has worked on and off for the University of Auckland for about 15 years as either a teaching fellow, research fellow, lecturer, or deputy director: namely in Sociology/School of Social Sciences, Maori and Pacific Health, and Pacific Studies. From Nov 2008- July 2011 she worked for the University of Otago as a senior research fellow with the Centre for International Health based at the National University of Samoa in Apia. Between July 2011-Sept 2016 she was a senior lecturer in the Pacific Studies programme and programme director of the Samoan Studies programme at Victoria University of Wellington’s (VUW) Vaaomanu Pasifika Unit. She returned to the University of Auckland to join the Sociology/Criminology disciplinary area in the School of Social Sciences in Oct 2016.  As well as working for the university sector, Tamasailau has held honorary and part-time senior researcher and programme evaluator positions with the state and private sectors: namely with the Waitemata District Health Board’s Clinical Research and Resource Centre (2003-2008), and with (as co-director)  Pacific Research and Development Services Ltd (1998-2003). Tamasailau was a member of the government Superu and university (VUW) central ethics committees. She is a member of the NZ Sociology journal editorial board, the Samoan Studies journal editorial board, and the Gaualofa Trust Board of Trustees. She is co-lead investigator with Dr Robert Webb in a Marsden Funded research project on international (NZ, Australia and USA) comparisons of Maori and Samoan experiences of youth justice. Her current teaching and research interests focus on indigenous criminology, Pacific research methodologies and indigenous jurisprudence in the Pacific.

Dr Tamasailau Suaalii-Sauni

Professor Derrick Armstrong

Professor Derrick Armstrong is Deputy Vice Chancellor Research, Innovation and International at the University of the South Pacific. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from the University of London together with a Masters and Ph.D. from the University of Lancaster. He also holds a Graduate Certificate awarded by the Australian Institute of Company Directors.  Prior to coming to USP in May this year he held senior management roles at The University of Sydney where he was Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education and Registrar) (2008-2013); Deputy Provost and Pro-Vice Chancellor Learning and Teaching (2006-2009); and, Dean of the Faculty of Education and Social Work (2005-2008). Before moving to Australia he was Professor at the University of Sheffield in the UK where he co-directed the University Centre for Childhood and Youth and was Director of the national Research Priority Network ‘Pathways Into and Out of Crime’. Between 1996 and 2001 he was Director of the University of Sheffield’s Caribbean Programme, spending a significant time working in that region. In 2013 he was awarded the position of Professor Emeritus at the University of Sydney. During his career he has held positions on a number of Company Boards as well as national advisory roles in higher education.

Professor Armstrong has published 9 books as well as 150 journal articles and papers.

Governance Board

The NZIPR Board provides strategic direction, monitors outcomes, and has oversight of the work of the Institute. It reviews and approves the strategic plan of the Institute and comprises a nominee from each of the University consortium partners (Auckland, AUT, Otago) and one nominee from MFAT. The NZIPR Director also attends Board meetings.

The Board meets twice a year.


A number of overseas organisations and institutions are associates of the NZIPR. These include the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), the Australian National University (ANU), Peking University (PKU), University of Hawai’i (UH), and the University of the South Pacific (USP

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