Dr Cath Conn

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Associate Head of School - South, Co-Director, Centre for Child Health Research

Phone: 64+ 9 921 9999 Ext 7407

Email: cath.conn@aut.ac.nz

Physical Address:
AUT University (Room MB217)
South Campus
640 Great South Rd
Manukau, Auckland 2025
New Zealand

Postal Address:

Discipline of Public Health, Mailcode M-2
AUT University,
South Campus,
Private Bag 92006
Auckland 1142
New Zealand

ORCID logo  https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4224-1112

Address for blogs:

Links to relevant web pages:


BSc (Hons) Soc Sci, MCommH (Liverpool, School of Tropical Medicine), PG Dip Business Admin (Henley), PG Cert Teaching and Learning for Higher Education (Leeds), Doctorate Public Sector Management (Leeds).


Dr Cath Conn is the Associate Head of School (South) and Co-Director of the Centre for Child Health Research and she is currently located at AUT’s South Campus. Her research and teaching interests include youth and gender empowerment, young women’s health, public health in developing countries, HIV prevention, sexual health, critical management and policy, international indigenous health and participatory and action methodologies.

Cath has worked for nearly 40 years in international health and development in Africa and Asia, recently in the Pacific; first with Save the Children over a 10 year period as a programme manager. Her roles included emergency programme management in Uganda; and adviser to primary health care and sanitation programmes in Sudan and The Gambia. She worked for a further 10 years as a consultant and researcher, in health systems development for Vietnam and Laos; as a primary health care support in Nigeria; and as a programme manager for urban primary health care training in China. Over the last 20 years she has lectured and conducted research in the UK, New Zealand and overseas. Please find a full CV here.

Cath is passionate about real world solutions to people’s health, especially for vulnerable communities. She is taking a leading role in developing a distinctive profile for AUT in public health at AUT’s South Campus with an emphasis on addressing inequalities, youth and community empowerment and the south Auckland population. Please find a full CV here.

Teaching Areas:

  • International public health policy and systems
  • Programme management and evaluation
  • Qualitative research methods
  • International health and development

Research Areas:

  • Youth, technology and empowerment
  • Public and environmental health education
  • HIV prevention
  • Access to water and sanitation
  • Women's health
  • Indigenous health in developing countries
  • Pacific region and public and environmental health

Research Summary:

Since 1991 she has been involved in a number of health management research projects in Uganda (district health policy), Vietnam and Laos (studies of district health system). She has also published on qualitative research: participatory and narrative methods. Her doctoral research explored young women’s voices and HIV prevention in Uganda using a critical narrative method.

Currently, she is Principal Investigator of the New Zealand Aid / New Zealand Institute of Pacific Research Consortium Project: ‘Healthy eating plus enterprise: A participatory approach to Pacific youth contributing to health goals and Sustainable Economic Development’ and a Lead Researcher at AUT.

Current Research Projects:

Youth, technology and empowerment for health solutions: This project focuses on the role of youth as champions and leaders in health, and their use of technology to enhance this role and disseminate their experiences. A pilot study is being conducted with youth leaders in Auckland using mobile devices. Another, and related study is being conducted by Dinar Lubis, PhD student, in Bali with young gay men who use video to create HIV prevention messages.

New directions in public and environmental health: This aims to address the challenges of public and environmental health education in the 21st century in the context of New Zealand and the Pacific region. It examines ‘next’ practice and sectoral employability in the rapidly shifting public and environmental health landscape; and identifies the ways in which tertiary institutions can best prepare both domestic and international students in a digital and globalized context. Research is organized around three key themes: new directions in public and environmental health in the digital age; teaching and learning for 21st century skills in public and environmental health; and public and environmental health in the context of south Auckland and the Pacific. Research findings will be applied to the development of public and environmental health programmes and to the creation of a Centre of Excellence in an innovative and multidisciplinary approach at AUT’s South Campus. This work aims to increase numbers of both international and domestic students and provide them with appropriate skills for the future. The research will also inform a developing partnership with Pacific region institutions, such as, NZ AID, the University of the South Pacific, and Oxfam New Zealand, for linked programmes in public and environmental health.  The first study to be undertaken in this area is a focus group based research in late 2015 with year 12 students in 3 south Auckland schools; we will be exploring their perceptions of public and environmental health, including what they think about this subject as a career choice.


Conn, C. (2017). Vulnerable Youth as Prosumers in HIV Prevention. Journal of Medical Internet Research, August 14; 3(3):e53.

Conn, C., Modderman, K., & Nayar, S. S. (2017). Strengthening participation by young women sex workers in HIV programs: reflections on a study from Bangkok, Thailand. International Journal of Women's Health, 9:619-623.

Thuita, W., Conn, C., & Wilson, K. (2016). The Role of Marginalised Women in Sanitation Initiatives: Somali Women in Kenya. Development in Practice, 27(1), 16-25.

Conn, C., Maibvisira, C., & Nayar, S. (2015). Diverse youth voices and New Zealand public policy. Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies, 10(1), 36-40.

Conn, C., Said, A., Sa'uLilo, L., Fairbairn Dunlop, P., Antonczak, L., & Andajani, S. (2016). Pacific talanoa and participatory action research: Providing a space for Auckland youth leaders to contest inequalities. Development Bulletin, 77, 49-53.

Conn, C. (2013). Young African women must have empowering and receptive social environments for HIV prevention. AIDS Care - Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV, 25(3), 273-280.

Conn C, Modderman K, & Nayar, S (2013) At the limits of participation: Most at risk populations and HIV programmes Development Bulletin 75 Canberra: ANU.

Gurung, Y., & Conn, C. Indigenous Thami youth participation: The early marriage and early pregnancy prevention project in Nepal. In International Indigenous Development Research Conference 2014 Proceedings.

Waite L, Conn C (2012) ‘Participatory Video: A Feminist way of Seeing’ Handbook of Participatory Video, Ed E-J Milne, Claudia Mitchell and Naydene DeLange, AltaMira Press.

Waite L, Conn C, (2011), ‘Creating a space for young women’s voices: Using participatory video drama in Uganda’ Gender, Place and Culture. 18(1).