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AUT academic first Kiwi recipient of Cambridge position

August 2014

Sharyn Graham Davies.

AUT University anthropology lecturer Sharyn Graham Davies is off to Cambridge University as New Zealand's first recipient of a Leverhulme visiting professorship for that university.

Associate Professor Davies from the School of Social Sciences and Public Policy specialises in sex and gender research especially with regard to Indonesia and will be at Cambridge for the Michaelmas term (October-February).

She was invited by the university as an eminent researcher and will run classes for masters students as well as presenting three public lectures entitled Kinships of Shame: Moral Connectivity in Contemporary Indonesia; Surveilling Sex, Sculpting Sex: The Shaping of the Sexual Self; and The 'G' Factor: Gangam Style and the anthropology of policing.

Associate Professor Davies' talks will focus on ways in which social media is impacting contemporary ideas of sexuality, looking particularly at how people craft sexual identities in a world where even the most private of activities can be broadcast to a global audience within minutes.

"To be selected as Leverhulme Visiting Professor at Cambridge is without doubt the highlight of my career so far. To be recognised for the research I have done on notions of gender and sexuality and to be able to present this work at Cambridge and interact with colleagues and students there, will be both intellectually and culturally rewarding.

"When the Cambridge accommodation office contacted me to help with finding a place to stay the email ended saying, 'We have been helping Cambridge people find accommodation since the 1800s'. It really struck home then that I was going to a place steeped in academic excellence."

Associate Professor Davies says the experience she gains at Cambridge will be brought back to AUT where she will pass on new knowledge to colleagues and post graduate students.

"This opportunity will pave the way for further staff and student exchanges with Cambridge."

Associate Professor Davies will also present her work at Durham University and the London School of Economics.Prior to the UK she will visit the University of California — Irvine, New York University and Yale University as part of a Fulbright Scholarship and speak at sociology conferences in San Francisco and Japan.

Metiria Turei talks life in the public eye

Metiria Turei

A class of first year communications and social sciences students got to hear first-hand from someone who has spent the last 12 years as a public figure, and the many ups and downs that have come with that.

Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei was invited to give a guest lecture to the Applied Media Ethics class and discussed her upbringing and personal and political journey that led her to become an MP for the Green Party and the various experiences with the media that she has encountered.

The budding PR professionals and journalists heard Ms Turei's views on the need for politicians to be accessible, always ready to comment on a story and being 100 percent honest and open with media in the first instance.

Ms Turei also spoke at length about the importance of good relationships between politicians and journalists. She went on to say that while she has some very good relationships with members of the media now, it was not always easy and admits that as a young MP she spent the first five years of her time in Parliament being "absolutely petrified" of the media.

This even included walking the long way to the debating chamber in order to avoid the infamous Parliament 'bridge' where the press gallery gather en masse to ask questions of MPs walking past.

Ms Turei told the class that her nervousness was due to the uncertainty around what the relationship between politicians and journalists was meant to be. Now, with some more experience under her belt, she has formed some great relationships with a number of members of the media — a relationship she describes as beneficial to both parties — the journalist gets their story; the politician gets their message out.

The students had a chance to ask questions and were keen to know her thoughts on public figures such as MPs having to hold themselves to a higher moral standard and what can be done when something is misrepresented by the media.

The Green Party Co-leader also spoke openly about the difficulty of personal attacks, including the recent "Jacketgate" and the attention she gained over the now infamous "castle" she lives in.

Lecturer Sharyn Graham Davies says it was a pleasure having Ms Turei speak to the class and be able to provide first-hand experiences of her time in the media as a public figure.

"It's really important for our students to hear from people directly engaging media ethics in real life and so it was great that Metiria was able to come and talk to our students and share her first-hand experiences of the challenges of engaging with the media."

Our school in the media

May 2014

Below is a selection of recent media interviews with School of Social Sciences and Public Policy academics.

  • Pepper spray trial extended — Dr John Buttle, Senior Lecturer Criminology discusses the extended trial of more potent pepper spray by the Police. Radio New Zealand.
  • NZ ranked world's most socially advanced — Dr Marilyn Waring, Professor of Public Policy, was interviewed in response to the finding that New Zealand ranks at the top of a new global index that measures a range of societal outcomes. Radio New Zealand.

Crime 'mythbusting' a real eye-opener for high school students

Westlake Hich School students with John Buttle.

John Buttle lifted the lid on the academic study of crime in New Zealand for Westlake Girls High School students.

April 2014

Recently Dr John Buttle was invited to present at the crime seminar at Westlake Girls High School. John's presentation focused on the contribution that criminology can make to New Zealand society when it comes to dispelling the numerous myths surrounding the public understanding of crime. The talk was well received, as the following comments from a teacher shows:

"We can't wait to explore the ideas that you presented and really appreciate the different perspective that you gave on why crime in NZ is falling. It was real food for thought and certainly not the media's or the police's party line… Your talk showed the girls that academic investigation exposes a lot of myths!"

"The students were particularly impressed with the fact that the academic evidence contradicts the official understandings of crime often propagated by members of the criminal justice system. The students had a lively and interesting debate, and considerable interest was shown in going on to university to study criminology."

Symposium puts spotlight on the role of criminology in society

Shoshana Pollack.

Keynote speaker Shoshana Pollack from the Wilfrid Laurier University (Canada).

The importance and role of criminology in society was a central question of a the Criminology Symposium held on 24 February at the AUT City Campus.

The event, jointly hosted by the School of Social Sciences and Public Policy at AUT and the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology (ANZSOC) carried the theme "New Zealand Criminology: Crossroads and Connections".

Dr Antje Deckert, Criminologist in the school and recently elected ANZSOC New Zealand Vice President, organised the event in an effort to bring together New Zealand academics, professionals, NGO's, media and the public.

The symposium was designed to provide networking opportunities for future professional and research collaborations. Nine high-profile speakers addressed over fifty attendees who represented academia, the Department of Corrections, JustSpeak, the private research sector, Re-thinking Crime and Punishment, students, Te Puni Kōkiri, and the Wakamoemoea Being the Change Trust.

ANZSOC President Prof Rick Sarre from the University of South Australia opened the symposium by exploring the question: "why criminology matters today?"

Keynote speaker Professor Shoshana Pollack from Wilfrid Laurier University (Canada) shared her experiences with implementing the American Inside-Out Prison Exchange Programme in Canada. Of particular interest was how the programme benefits both tertiary students and incarcerated men and women. Her talk triggered positive responses especially from the Department of Corrections representatives.

Further speakers included:

  • Kim Workman, Director of Rethinking Crime and Punishment
  • Associated Prof Tracey McIntosh and Professor Scott Poynting from the University of Auckland
  • Professor John Pratt and Dr Elizabeth Stanley from Victoria University of Wellington
  • Dr Jarrod Gilbert who recently published his book Patched: The History of Gangs in New Zealand.

AUT was represented by Dr Laumua Tunufa'i, who explored why labelling young low level offenders as 'Wannabe's' may have criminogenic effects.

Inspirational scholar recognised with Prime Minister's Award

December 2013

Edmond Fehoko.
Edmond Fehoko believes in the transformative power of education — he has seen it in his own life and now helps other students to experience it too.

Edmond's ability to inspire young people in the Pacific community was formally recognised this month with a 2013 Prime Minister's Pacific Youth Award (Cogita Inspiration Award), which includes $5000 to spend on travel and personal development.

While studying towards a Master of Arts in Social Sciences at AUT University, Edmond is also employed by the university as a mentor for young Pacific Island students.

He first came to AUT to complete his undergraduate degree after receiving a Vice-Chancellor's Scholarship while at Kelston Boys' High School.

"I grew up in a low socioeconomic area with nothing and now as a young New Zealand born Tongan male, I am the winner of a prestigious award. Education has illuminated a path for me to see a brighter side of life," says Edmond, who says he was once a gang affiliate well on his way to becoming a crime statistic.

Edmond was encouraged and supported to apply for the award by leaders in the Tongan community and AUT academics including Dr Laumua Tunufa'i and Pro Vice Chancellor of Research Professor Richard Bedford.

Being named as a recipient of the Inspiration Award was an amazing moment.

"While giving my acceptance speech in front of Ministers of Parliament, Pasifika leaders and academics, what stood out to me were the tears of joy of my family. That is a moment I will remember.

"I dedicate the award to my father for his sacrifice migrating from the islands of Kotu and Nomuka to New Zealand so that one day me and my siblings could live up to his dream."

After completing the thesis for his Master of Arts, Edmond hopes to utilise his $5000 award to attend international conferences or workshops. His ultimate dream is to pursue PhD studies overseas.

The Prime Minister's Pacific Youth Awards were established in 2010 to inspire young Pacific people to reach their full potential.

Putting human rights into social protection

December 2013

Marilyn Waring book.

Policy-makers and development practitioners have a new tool to help them devise dynamic social protection programmes — a book co-authored by AUT's Professor Marilyn Waring.

'Anticipatory Social Protection: Claiming dignity and rights' explains the Commonwealth Secretariat's modern-day approach to social protection (social protection programmes typically include labour market interventions, social insurance and social assistance).

Professor Waring and her co-authors Anit N Mukherjee, Elizabeth Reid and Meena Shivdas analyse and discuss a framework for social protection, models of good practice across the Commonwealth and innovative ways of ways of providing social protection.

The authors argue for a more dynamic approach to social protection that uses human rights principles to address social inequities.

"This book explores ways of providing social protection that are not only based on the ideology of men and women being in full-time work in the formal economy. Instead we look at how social protection can become a tool to transform society so that human rights are available to all, including marginalised groups, in an anticipatory, as opposed to reactive, framework.

"It is important to challenge the social and political factors that can contribute to poverty and disadvantage, rather than just providing a 'safety net' that reinforces a mainstream ideology," says Professor Waring.

Fulbright Award a 'lifetime honour' for AUT anthropologist


September 2013

AUT anthropologist Associate Professor Sharyn Graham Davies says the Fulbright New Zealand Travel Award she received this month, will be an honour for life.

Davies combines lecturing in the School of Social Sciences and Public Policy with an active programme of research currently focusing on procedural justice in Indonesia.

American Sociological Conference

The Fulbright Award will enable Davies to attend the American Sociological Association Conference in San Francisco in August 2014, where she will present research on policing styles in Indonesia.

She will then complete a wider research and teaching trip to leading universities and research organisations in the United States and Europe while she is on sabbatical leave from AUT.


While the Fulbright Award represents a modest contribution towards her travel ($4000), Davies says the real prize will be adding the Fulbright name to her curriculum vitae.

"It is a huge honour to receive a Fulbright Award; it says that as an academic I am willing to engage with a wider audience and put my work out there," says Davies.

Fulbright New Zealand Travel Awards are for New Zealand academics, artists or professionals to present their work to American audiences. Approximately twelve awards valued at up to NZ$5000 are granted each year.

AUT Support

"That I can achieve and take up this award says a lot about the research focus at AUT. The university strongly supports and promotes the Fulbright values of cultural and academic exchange, and has made this possible for me," says Davies.

Research and teaching benefits

Having the chance to spend time developing her research and teaching is an exciting prospect, says Davies. It will be good to share my research with other academics and develop it further. I am also keen to see how my American counterparts are teaching and maybe bring some of those techniques back to AUT."

Associate Professor receives praise for sex and gender research

September 2013

Associate Professor Sharyn Graham Davies recently received praise in the American Anthropologist journal for her research from 2010 entitled: "Gender Diversity in Indonesia: Sexuality, Islam and Queer Selves".

State of Auckland Report rates Auckland Council performance

1 September 2013

The State of Auckland Report provides an objective and authoritative reflection on trends and changes over time. It presents indicators as well as analysis and commentary to help readers interpret the information.

This includes an indication whether the outcome could reasonably be expected to have resulted directly or indirectly from the Super City reforms or from actions (or lack of action) from the Auckland Council.

Visit the State of Auckland website for the complete report and summaries.

In the media:

Last updated: 07-Aug-2014 2.10pm

The information on this page was correct at time of publication. For a comprehensive overview of AUT qualifications, please refer to the Academic Calendar.

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