Assisted reproduction and new family formation (Marsden funded research project)

NZ is a global leader in the affirmation of sexual and reproductive rights, yet barriers to assisted reproductive technologies remain, particularly for single, poor, LGBTQ+, disabled, Māori and Pacific people, and new migrants.

Funded through Marsden (2019-2021), this research project uses cross-cultural comparative ethnography to explore for the first time the experiences of those unable to access state-funded assisted reproductive technologies, and who are thus rendered socially infertile.

Aims of this research

  • Examine how these individuals form families, including through fertility travel
  • Formulate new ways of theorising kinship and family life
  • Promote acceptance of new forms of family

More information about this research

Participate in this research project

Do you have a story to share about your journey to create a family? Did you need to access assisted reproductive technologies but found that a challenge?

If you’d like to participate in our research we’d love talk to you, especially if you are Māori, Pacific, disabled, single, LGBTQ+ or heterosexual.

Research team: who we are

We are a team of experienced social science researchers.

Associate Professor Sharyn Davies

Associate Professor Sharyn Davies is an anthropologist and ethnographer who has worked for nearly two decades with Southeast Asian communities on projects around gender and sexuality.

Staff profile: Associate Professor Sharyn Davies, AUT

Dr Elizabeth Kerekere

Dr Elizabeth Kerekere (Te Aitanga a Māhaki, Whānau a kai, Ngāti Konohi, Ngāi Tāmanuhuri, Rongawhakaata) is a Māori researcher whose PhD thesis focused on Takatāpui identity, and currently works as a researcher and advocate with Takatāpui and Rainbow Youth.

Lisa Melville

Lisa Melville’s current PhD research focuses on lesbian and same-sex attracted women couples’ experiences of assisted conception and having children.

Associate Professor Rhonda Shaw

Associate Professor Rhonda Shaw is a sociologist who has previously undertaken research on gamete donation and surrogate pregnancy (2003 to 2009), and has worked with Disability Studies scholars and Māori researchers on other projects relating to embodiment and identity.

Staff profile: Associate Professor Rhonda Shaw, Victoria University of Wellington

Henrietta Bollinger and Dr Nelly Martin

The study is supported by advisors who will contribute to the project to assist with recruitment, interviewing, and translation. These research assistants are Disability Studies researcher Henrietta Bollinger and Muslim scholar and researcher Dr Nelly Martin.

Edmond Fehoko

Edmond is the Pacific Research Assistant in this Marsden Study. Edmond is currently completing a PhD in Public Health from the Auckland University of Technology exploring the Tongan male perceptions and experiences of gambling and problem gambling in New Zealand.

PhD scholarship available

Apply now for a Marsden PhD scholarship in accessing assisted reproduction to join our research team. Applications close soon.

Apply for scholarship

Contact us

Get in touch to learn more about this study or to find out how to participate.

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