Roxane de Waegh

Roxane de Waegh

Doctor of Philosophy candidate

How do Pacific Islands people respond and adapt to global disruptions? That’s the interesting topic Roxane (Roxy) de Waegh is exploring for her PhD in tourism.

"My goal is to explore the responses and adaptation strategies of Pacific Islands people to disruptive global change to develop a deeper understanding of how they perceive the role of global processes in supporting the social-ecological wellbeing of their community.

"By presenting data that reveals insights into the adaptation strategies of participants responding to the sudden collapse of tourism, disruption in global trade, restricted access to labour migration and the absence of foreign consultants in official development assistance projects, the findings reveal how Pacific Islands people supported the social-ecological wellbeing of their island home by revitalising traditional practices and exercising their agency and social capital. The interpretive discussion on the research findings deepens the understanding of how participants’ lived experiences increased their awareness of their individual and collective capacity to support the wellbeing of their island community, which influenced their perceptions on the role and impacts of tourism, trade, labour migration and foreign aid."

Roxy’s PhD research is being supervised by Professor Mark Orams, Professor Michael Lueck and Dr Rerekura Teaurere.

The right fit
Her PhD was the natural next step in her academic career, says Roxy who came to AUT as an international student from Belgium and is currently in the final writing stage of her PhD, with plans  to present her findings in the Cook Islands and Tonga later this year.

“Given the increasing dependence on tourism for many islands in the South Pacific, alongside the increasing threats of climate change and environmental degradation associated with the development of tourism-related infrastructure, I consider this degree to be the perfect fit that will enable me to develop a deeper understanding of the dichotomy found within integrated conservation and development projects.”

The calibre of her supervisors is what attracted her to AUT.

“I chose AUT for my PhD because Professor Mark Orams and Professor Michael Lueck were both professors at this university, and I was fortunate to receive an invitation by them and AUT to come study here.”

Supported to thrive
The support from AUT has been exceptional, says Roxy who received an AUT Vice-Chancellor’s Doctoral Scholarship to support her studies.

“It’s clear that the success and wellbeing of students is AUT’s top priority. AUT is a young and dynamic university that clearly puts its students first by offering them opportunities to grow professionally and personally through various networking interactions. The genuine spirit of comradery and collaboration, in addition to the continuous and dependable support, is what I enjoy most about my studies at AUT. These attributes provide a sense of comfort and security which is usually incredibly challenging to find at an academic institution.”

Studying in such a supportive environment has made it easy for her to find her voice as a budding researcher.

“A PhD journey can be quite isolating at times, however with the proper guidance from your supervisors, and the space they allow you to think, reflect and analyse knowledge, you can find eureka moments on a weekly basis. The freedom and trust that my supervisors continue to offer me has enabled me to construct my own academic opinion and develop a researcher’s voice, which of course is still in the making.

“During my PhD journey, I’ve written two book chapters, edited a book, presented at two conferences, published an article and was on the steering committee to organise a symposium in Wellington for all doctoral students in New Zealand studying tourism. I’ve also started working as a teaching assistant and guest lecturer. That was an experience that has definitely awakened a passion for teaching, which I aim to pursue as either a postdoc or aspiring lecturer.”

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