Tui Matelau-Doherty

Tui Matelau-Doherty

Senior Lecturer, Unitec Institute of Technology
Doctor of Philosophy

Ngāti Kahu ki Whaingaroa, Tongan

Doctoral study was the obvious next step for her career, says Tui Matelau-Doherty who is graduating from AUT with a Doctor in Philosophy in communication studies this August.

“I’ve worked as a lecturer for about 10 years and I love it. I love that it’s a mixture of creativity, organisation and interpersonal skills. In committing to a career path in academia, I knew that gaining a PhD would benefit my future progression.”

As someone who also loves research, Tui knew that doctoral study was the perfect avenue to build on earlier research and more deeply explore a topic of her interest.

“I felt that my research from my master’s degree needed further exploration. I chose to continue to work with Professor Sigrid Norris from the AUT Multimodal Research Centre for my PhD because I had a built a positive relationship with her in my master’s degree, and I trusted her to guide and support me through a PhD as well.”

Exploring contemporary Māori and Pacific identities
For her PhD thesis, Tui set out to gain a better understanding of contemporary emerging Māori and Pacific identities in Aotearoa.

“Budding identities are often evident in the creative work of artists due to the fact that they tend to explore and represent moments of conflict or uncertainty in their work; understanding these moments better. Through this understanding, artists in return make these changes in society tangible for the community.

“I used video ethnography and interviews to collect data from six female Māori and Pacific creative practitioners engaged in visual art, dance and creative writing. My thesis examines the artists’ identity productions during art-making, as well as their reflections upon their lived experiences and identity productions in everyday life. My research contributes to knowledge in the area of Māori and Pacific identity studies, demonstrating how layers of multifaceted and often conflicting identity elements are fruitfully merged or contested, bringing about strong and new Māori and Pacific identities.”

Tui’s research was supervised by Professor Sigrid Norris from the AUT Multimodal Research Centre, as well as Professor Erica Hinckson and Dr Jennifer Nikolai from AUT’s School of Sport and Recreation.

The support to succeed
She would highly recommend the Doctor of Philosophy at AUT, says Tui whose studies were supported by a Whāia NPM Doctoral Excellence Scholarship from Ngā Pae o te Maramatanga.

“I had a superwomen team of supervisors and I’m privileged to have their example to work towards. The academics I worked with and who supported me were so generous with their time and knowledge.

“I also enjoyed the collegiality with the other PhD students, postdoctoral fellows and visiting scholars within the AUT Multimodal Research Centre. We regularly had shared kai and discussion series, which helped to build relationships and increased my confidence to engage critically with academic ideas. It helps me so much to be able to draw on the experience of my colleagues and fellow alumni as I develop my academic profile.”

It’s important to maintain balance while you’re completing your PhD, Tui says.

“The difficult thing about doing a PhD is that it lasts for such a long time and life continues while you’re working. I got married in the middle of my PhD and then had a baby right at the end of it.  Although these were wonderful blessings, they did distract me from reading, writing, transcribing and so on. Having a supervisor that values life’s beautiful moments really helped me to maintain balance and enjoy my life, while also working hard when I needed to.”

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