Professor Richard Bedford has been actively researching migration in the Pacific for 50 years. He first began research in the region in 1965 when he carried out field work in Kiribati and Tuvalu (then the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony) for a Master of Geography thesis on resettlement as a solution to economic and social problems.
He then went to Australia National University's Research School of Pacific Studies to complete a Doctor of Philosophy. His doctoral thesis explored internal migration in Vanuatu (then known as the Condominium of the New Hebrides before gaining independence in 1980).
Since then, he has carried on researching and teaching at the Universities of Canterbury and Waikato before joining AUT in the research office in 2010.
Richard is now carrying out research on the seasonal migration of Pacific workers employed in New Zealand’s horticulture and viticulture industries. He has been monitoring this scheme for the past six years.
Richard is concerned that many New Zealanders still seem to view our large Pacific population in Auckland as “migrants”. In fact, over half of them were born in New Zealand and are New Zealanders just like he is.
Richard believes that AUT is different to other universities as it is very community focused; it pushes research that is relevant to the community around us, as well as being industry based.
Richard’s research has contributed towards the development of New Zealand’s immigration policy, especially over the past 15 years.
In the early 2000s he was a member of the Minister of Immigration’s Advisory Committee on Immigration, and he has assisted officials with the development of policies relating to the Pacific Access Category, the New Zealand Longitudinal Survey of Immigration (LIsNZ) and the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) work policy.
Richard has been appointed President of the Royal Society of New Zealand from 1 July 2015.
In this role he is keen to see how New Zealand’s community of researchers can work with Pacific and Australian researchers to address key issues affecting the Pacific region.
He believes there is still scope for greater collaboration between institutions and academies when researching some of the big challenges facing societies in our part of the world.