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Student Profiles

Liesel Mitchell

Liesel 2015In 2010 I graduated with my Postgraduate Diploma as one of the students in the foundation year of Peace and Conflict Studies at Otago University. That year was formative in providing me with a fabulous smorgasbord of Peace and Conflict research and theory, intellectual debate, and challenging assignments which stimulated and inspired me to want to continue learning in this field. My next step was to enrol in my MA in nonviolent discipline, embarking on the rollercoaster-research-ride of thesis writing! Over the course of my masters, I did some very necessary and sometimes challenging academic ‘growing’. With the excellent guidance of my supervisor, I was encouraged to stretch my writing and research skills, broaden my academic knowledge and develop a critical thinking I never knew I had. Through the Peace and Conflict Studies Centre I also had the opportunity to present my research as part of the weekly poster presentations, attend a range of excellent seminars and lectures, connect with a very supportive community of students and staff, and guest lecture on my research topic. All of these things helped to hone my academic thinking and better my research process. Although I completed my MA in early 2012, I kept close ties with Peace and Conflict staff and students, and in April 2013 I enrolled as a PhD student. As of 2015, I am at the half way point through my PhD study, and although there are plenty of challenges, for the most part I love what I do. The topic of nonviolent discipline still excites and intrigues me, and as I am about to enter the data collection phase of my research, I am even more interested to see whether my theories hold when put to the test!

Nijmeh Ali

NijmehI grew up in Haifa, in an internal refugee family originally from Mia’ar, a small village that was destroyed during the 1948 war, in the Galilee of Palestine.

I finished my B.A degree at Haifa University, studying Political Science, Sociology & Anthropology. I completed my MA research in the Political Science Department at the Hebrew University, specializing in “Democracy and Citizenship Theories”. I am interested in civic education, and its impact on forming and framing a diverse citizenship contexts, while asking the question of, “who and what” is a “good citizen”. I believe in promoting citizenship education through citizenship engagement; because of that I affiliated myself with practical activism.

My MA research is based on social and political movement theory, emphasizing the diverse aspects of resistance in the Palestinian struggle, through investigating the popular culture and the particularity of local activism as resisting tools for statehood in front of the Israeli occupation. Also, as a trigger for political and social behavior change among Palestinians, in the internal Palestinian society during liberation process. My case study is the first Intifada, and “traditional music” as a political active player in reshaping the Palestinian struggle, politically and socially.

For my Ph.D. in the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies I will concentrate on the Palestinian citizens of Israel as an indigenous people, emphasizing the tension between citizenship and nationality in sustainable conflict.

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Sondre Lindahl

Sondre LindahlMy research interests are terrorism and counterterrorism, and my doctoral project focuses on Norway’s approach to counterterrorism and whether it marks a different and more fruitful way of dealing with terrorism.

I was introduced to Critical Terrorism Studies when I went to Aberystwyth University in Wales to do my Master’s degree in international relations. This was just a few months after the 22/7 massacre at Utøya, Norway, in 2011 and I decided to engage with a field that I quickly realised was heavily contested. After I finished my Master’s degree I wanted to do more research on terrorism, and especially explore different approaches to counterterrorism and challenge the models that are dominant in the literature.

I am also Assistant Editor to the Routledge Handbook of Critical Terrorism Studies, edited by my supervisor Richard Jackson, and I will also contribute to the handbook with a chapter on the critical evaluation of counterterrorism.

Assessing the Language of the EU’s Counter-Terrorism Strategy (2012)

The Importance of Language: Critically Assessing Norway’s New Law on Lone Wolf Terrorism. (2013)

In Norwegian:
Hva er terrorisme? (2013)

Mindre åpenhet etter terror. (2012)

Sylvia Frain

Sylvia C. Frain

I am currently a doctoral candidate with The National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies/ Te Ao O Rongomaraeroa, The Department of History & Art History/ Te Tari Kōrero Nehe me te Mahi Toi Onamata. I am also a Research Associate with the Micronesia Area Research Center (MARC), Unibetsedåt Guåhan (University of Guam, UOG) Guåhan, in Micronesia and a Research Assistant for the Marsden Fund Project: Constant coconuts: a history of a versatile commodity in the Pacific world.

I earned my Masters of International Studies in the field of Peace and Conflict Resolution and an Australian Mediation Certificate from the University of Queensland, Brisbane in 2011 with my thesis entitled, Peace Photography in Post-Conflict Settings: Focusing on Timor-Leste. My undergraduate work with the Global and International Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara, included the creation of the film documentary, The Recruiting Practices of the U.S. Military after 9/11 in 2004.

My research is part of an ongoing collaboration of artists, activists, and academics that explore peace, resistance, solidarity, decolonization and demilitarization efforts in in the Marianas Archipelago including Guåhan (Guam), an organized unincorporated territory of the United States, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and across Oceania. My dissertation project seeks to examine how resistance to political colonization and American militarization is visualized across new media sites and on digital spaces. This study is based on a critical and emancipatory theoretical framework and utilizes decolonial and gendered methodologies combined with visual methods to ground my autoethnographical research praxis. In addition, I continue to experiment using new media and online spaces to share theoretical scholarly work as well as self-reflective solidarity actions.

I am a member of the American Studies Association (ASA), the New Zealand Political Studies Association (NZPSA) / Te Kāhui Tātai Tōrangapū o Aotearoa, the Pacific History Association (PHA), the Pacific Islands Society, and the Resistance Studies Network. I am also part of the Pacific Young Women’s Leadership Alliance and Alternative Zero Coalition. I have written for, PeaceVoice and Stella Magazine and am a contributor blogger to the Feminist Academic Collective Blog, the Voice of Peace Blog, and Countering the Militarisation of Youth blog. I founded and manage the Facebook Page: Oceania Resistance to share my digital autoethnographical research relating to decolonization and demilitarization efforts across the region.

(2016) “Resisting Political Colonization and American Militarization in the Marianas Archipelago” AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples 12(3) pp. 298- 315.
(2016) “Mariana Islands Community Group to Sue US Navy Over at risk Wildlife” Asia Pacific Report 3 March.
(2016) Film Review: “War for Guam” Asia Pacific Inquiry 7(1).
(2016) “Litekyan, Guahan/ Ritidian, Guam” Storyboard: A Journal of Pacific Imagery. Forthcoming.
(2017) “Women’s Resistance in the Marianas Archipelago: A US Colonial Homefront and Militarized Frontline” Feminist Formations. Forthcoming.
(2017) “Austronesia Seafaring as Resistance in the Marianas Archipelago” Journal of Resistance Studies. Forthcoming.

(2015) “Against the Militarisation of Guam: Activism and Research” Women Talking Politics: The research magazine of New Zealand Political Studies Association (NZPSA), December Issue 2 p 8.
(2013) “Timor-Leste: A Successful Peacebuilding Example” Australian Institute of International Affairs (AIIA), Edition 4, Vol 2, May. Photo Essay: “Women’s Vocational Training Program.”
(2013) Photo Essay: “Makeshift Medicine” Australian Institute of International Affairs (AIIA), Edition 1, Vol 2, February.

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AJ Pienkhuntod

AJ PiekhuntodBefore joining the Centre, I graduated with a Masters in International Relations from Victoria University of Wellington and worked at the Royal Thai Embassy in Wellington for 3 years. During those years, I was involved in policy-making and policy-implementation activities and learned that policy achievement and failure often depended on knowledge and personal networks covering the local and the elite levels. Such work experiences highly inspired my PhD project.

My PhD thesis aims to define relationships between local leadership and peacebuilding in southernmost provinces of Thailand. It seeks to investigate how intraethnic bonds and interethnic networks enable local leaders to promote or damage peacebuilding efforts. I hope that the research outcome will extend our knowledge of the role of local leaders in peacebuilding in divided societies on the one hand, and on the other hand, to contribute to a better understanding of Southern Thailand conflict and local peacebuilding efforts.

John Gray

John Gray

My doctoral research focuses on the development of a new global dataset on post-conflict police reform and external-local involvement in it. It will also include data on community policing and gender representation in police. My other research interests include conflict driven displacement, local ownership and peace building, security studies, and non-violence/civil resistance.

I have a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations with a specialization in security studies from the University of British Columbia, and a Master’s degree in Politics and International Affairs with a specialization in Peace and Conflict Studies, from the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University.

Prior to joining the Centre, I worked as a Research Assistant for the Human Security Research Project in Vancouver, where I conducted research, fact-checked publications, and coordinated the Human Security Gateway. I have also interned with the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University, and I am the former Chairperson of the department’s student association, Pax et Bellum.


Gray, John and Julia Strasheim (2016). Security Sector Reform Ethnic Representation and Perceptions of Safety: Evidence from Kosovo. Civil Wars, Vol. 18 No. 3 (forthcoming).

Co-authored. Human Security Report Project, Human Security Report 2013: The Decline in Global Violence: Evidence, Explanation and Contestation, (Vancouver: Human Security Press, 2013).

Co-authored. Human Security Report Project, Human Security Report 2012: Sexual Violence, Education, and War: Beyond the Mainstream Narrative, (Vancouver: Human Security Press, 2012).

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Monica Carrer

Monica CarrerMy PhD research project focuses on the Maoist conflict in India, more precisely in rural areas of West Bengal. My study places the local civilian groups at the core of the analytical framework, and seeks to understand their role in shaping the dynamics of conflict at a local level and in building a discourse of peace. Through this study I seek to go beyond predominant myths and narratives on tribal and poor peasants, and achieve a deep understanding of the experience, perceptions and attitudes of these people.
My Indian origins and my experience in India gave me the inspiration and motivation to study human rights and peace and conflict studies. I graduated with full marks in Political Science, International Relations and Human Rights from the University of Padua (Italy) in 2010 and achieved a MA in Conflict, Security and Development from King’s College London with Distinction.
Since I joined National Centre for Peace and Conflict at the University of Otago I found myself surrounded by people genuinely committed to give a contribution to peace. As a result, the Centre is not only in a very rich and stimulating environment from an academic point of view, but it is also also very friendly, open and welcoming. Coming to the other corner of the world for this adventure was definitely worthwhile!

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Ria Shibata

RiaShibataProfilePicI enrolled in the PhD programme of the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies in May 2012 after finishing my masters thesis at Sophia University’s Global Studies Program on “Religion and Civil Society: International Religious NGOs and Nuclear Disarmament.” My PhD research is on the role of contact in dealing with prejudice, traumatic memory and enmification is Sino-Japanese relations.

Abstract: The recent escalation of conflict between China and Japan, triggered by the Japanese government’s move to purchase the rights to the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, is the most recent manifestation of a deeper division between the two countries that pre-dates and flows from the Second World War. Japan’s “historical amnesia” represented by its denial of the Nanjing massacre, sanitization of its history textbooks, resisting legal responsibility for the comfort women, and the controversial visits of its head of state to the Yasukuni shrine, has generated considerable ambivalence towards Japan. Similarly, memories of the “Bamboo curtain,” negative features of Maoism, Chinese human rights abuses and growing anxieties about Chinese business practices generate ambivalence and antagonism towards China. Despite expanded economic and cultural relations, distrust and animosity seem to be increasing between the governments and peoples of both countries. My PhD thesis will examine the dynamics of stereotyping and enmification and how these are driven by war memory and national identity narratives in China and Japan. It will then shed light on the role of cross-cultural connectors, (individuals and groups, who have challenged national xenophobia and more cosmopolitan narratives aimed at humanizing, rehumanizing the other.) The research will analyze the kind of contacts and conditions that are conducive to helping individuals overcome prejudice. What are the processes most likely to be effective in generating a cosmopolitan sensibility capable of resisting conflict-generating nationalist ideologies? The realization of durable peace in East Asia will require a deepening of macro-level economic and political relationships but also a micro- and meso-level de-stereotyping and re-humanization of the other.

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Marie Nissanka

Marie_standingMarie’s background in commerce, development studies, and knowledge management are complemented by her work experience in the areas of strategy development, policy and business analysis in the public and non-profit sectors. Marie has over seven years of work experience in the New Zealand public sector, as a policy, reporting and business analyst. Her work predominantly involved qualitative and quantitative data analysis, results-based monitoring, as well as output and outcome evaluation.

Marie has also worked extensively in the non-profit sector, by conducting research, measuring outcomes and strategic planning. Marie's main research interests are reducing educational inequalities, multicultural education, action research, organisational learning, knowledge management and evaluation methodologies. Marie’s Masters thesis investigated organisational learning in humanitarian organisations, while her PhD researches multiculturalism in the Citizenship Education curriculum in Sri Lanka.

Rachel Rafferty


My general research interests include the psychological and cultural dimensions to intergroup conflict (in particular the role of history education and collective memory), the human costs of conflict, peace education practice and the emotional and moral complexities of post-conflict transition periods.

I am a past Rotary Peace Fellow, graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Master’s in Education and a Graduate Certificate in Peace and Conflict Studies in May 2013. I also received a Graduate Certificate in International Development Policy from Duke University.

Before taking up my graduate studies, I worked for five years in my home country of Northern Ireland, developing, delivering and managing a range of community-level peace-building projects. This work included group dialogues, peace education training for teachers, shared history projects, creating peace-building resources, and carrying out youth engagement work. I have also been a visiting researcher at the Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation in The Hague, and Communications and Outreach Intern with the Peace and Collaborative Development Network.

Hafiza Yazdani

Hafiza YazdanyI recently joined the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies to learn more about peace and start a new journey towards a PhD in peace education.

I would like to investigate ethnic groups conflict in Afghanistan and its effect on the progress of the state peace and development processes. Ethnicity preference perception which has been challenging Afghanistan for decades, remains an obstacle to peace and an integrated society. The conflict among the ethnic groups is one of the critical reasons affecting the peace position and development progress in Afghanistan.

I would like to focus on common interests among the youth of different ethnic groups and attitudes to peace and an integrated society in Afghanistan future. I am eager to know how the youth of Afghanistan can contribute to peace and development.

I studied the Peace and Conflict Resolution Program MA Program in Austria, and graduated from Social Science, Sociology Department BA Program, Kabul Educational University, Afghanistan. Besides that I have worked in peace programs and projects since 2005 focusing on Gender and Women's Rights.

Babu Ayindo

Babu-new2My doctoral research focuses on comparative arts approaches to conflict resolution and peacebuilding as there is very little literature that documents and theorizes arts-based peacebuilding in post-colonial environments. I am currently doing fieldwork in Parihaka and Taranaki region in nothern Aotearoa/New Zealand. I will then proceed for comparative fieldwork in Mindanao (southern Phillipines) and Nairobi (Kenya).

I have experimented and written on arts approaches to peacebuilding in diverse cultural contexts in Africa, Asia and North America. Issues of peace and social justice were central in the themes and art forms we explored while I served as artistic director of Chelepe Arts and Amani People’s Theater in the mid 80s and 90s. When completing my Bachelor of Education degree at Kenyatta University in the early 90s, I continued this journey as I served as Coordinator of the University’s Centre for Performing and Creative Arts. I also explored some of these questions in my Master’s research project at Eastern Mennonite University, USA in 1996/1998.

In addition, I have designed and taught short courses in arts and peacebuilding at the folowing peace institutes and programs: the African Peacebuilding Institute (Mindolo, Zambia); the Summer Peacebuilding Institute of Eastern Mennonite University, Virginia (USA); Caux Scholars Program (Switzerland); the Peace and Development Institute of the American University, Washington, DC; MindanaoPeacebuilding Institute (The Philippines); the Canadian School of Peace (Winnipeg); The Youth Justpeace Camp in Fiji Islands. In August 2015, I will be co-teaching an Applied Theatre and Peacebuilding course at the Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute in Mongolia.

I hold a Bachelor of Education degree from Kenyatta University (Nairobi, Kenya) and M.A in Conflict Transformation from Eastern Mennonite University (Virginia, USA).

Danny Fridberg

DannyThroughout my studies in psychology, as an undergraduate student, and in conflict research, management and resolution, as a masters student, I have been fascinated by the ever-existing gap between the human potential for peace and prosperity and its reality of mutual and self destruction in many parts of the world, including the Middle East, where I grew up and spent most of my life.

In an attempt to solve this dissonance I spent the last 12 years training and practicing various aspects of conflict resolution: conducting mediation and consensus-building processes; leading public participation processes in joint decision making processes; dialogue encounters between conflicting groups on the grassroots and track II levels; directing community and peacebuilding projects; and conducting both academic and applied research (including evaluation research) for various NGOs and international foundations in the fields of education, peacebuilding and social activism. In the past five years I was a staff member at the Evens MA program for Conflict Resolution and Mediation at Tel-Aviv University in Israel, teaching a course about theory and practice of ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution).

I am now undertaking PhD studies at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago in order to broaden my investigation. In my research, through life stories of ex-combatants from Israel and Palestine, I try to develop a conceptualization of guidelines for transformation from militant to peace activism and by that to contribute to both theory and practice of conflict intervention.

Robbie Francis

Robbie 1Robbie Francis is a 26-year-old kiwi who lives with phocomelia syndrome, which means she was born without most of the bones in her lower legs. After major reconstructive surgery she now wears a prosthetic limb called Lucy Leg and lives knowing that her other leg may also need to be amputated one day.

Despite living with a disability, Robbie’s achievements have been recognised with prestigious awards, including a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship to study a Master’s degree in International Conflict Resolution and Mediation at the University of Tel Aviv in Israel. 

More recently, Robbie returned from living in Mexico where she interned as a human rights monitor for Disability Rights International. Having witnessed first hand the appalling conditions that people with disabilities live in, Robbie decided she wanted to be an active part of the solution. In 2014 Robbie established The Lucy Foundation – an organisation that connects the dots between business, trade, employment, poverty and disability. The first Lucy project is based in southern Mexico and addresses the training, employment and human rights of indigenous persons with disabilities through organic coffee production.

Robbie is a part-time long-distance student at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Otago. She is in the first year of her PhD, focusing on human rights and the protection of people with disabilities during armed conflict.

Joe Llewellyn


I started my PhD at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (NCPACS) in February 2015 after recieving a scholarship from the Rei Foundation. Previously, I completed an MA and a PGDip at NCPACS.

My research up to this point has focused on nonviolence and nonviolent resistance movements. My most recent project looked at the effects of different types of nonviolent revolutions on democratisation. Before this I explored the role of Gene Sharp’s work on the successful ‘Otpor’ movement in Serbia. Prior to my work in peace and conflict studies, I completed an undergraduate degree in occupational therapy and I am currently registered as a non-practicing occupational therapist. I also have a background in peace activism.

My current research is exploring anarcho-pacifist nonviolence, which explicitly rejects all forms of direct, structural and cultural violence as a means and as an end. I am exploring how anarcho-pacifism can be utilised in order to create peaceful societies. As part of this research I am conducting interviews with anarcho-pacifists and proponents of Gandhian nonviolence in Aotearoa New Zealand, India, and the United States.

Mahdis Azarmandi

Mahdis 220Mahdis' research looks at anti-racism and colonial amnesia in Aotearoa New Zealand and Spain. Her research interests are racialization and anti-racism, feminism, queer theory, colonization & decolonization. She is a teacher for life-long learning and social justice activist.

Decolonize the City! – Zur Kolonialität der Stadt. Perspektiven, Gespräche, Aushandlungen. eds: M.Azarmandi, N.K. Ha, V.Zablotsky, Unrast Verlag, Berlin (forhcoming)

“Commemorating no-bodies – Christopher Columbus and the violence of social-forgetting”. (forthcoming)

“Transnational German- Turkish Cinema from a Cosmopolitan Perspective – Towards the Representation of Cosmopolitan Hybrid Identities”, in Mapping Identities and Identification Processes: Approaches from Cultural Studies. Gregorio-Godea, E. & Martin-Albo, A. Peter Lang AG, International Academic Publishers, 2012

"Cine Transnacional como Practica Cosmopolita – Una herramienta para cambiar representaciones de identidades hibridas y promover diversidad" in Filosofia en Accion. Mingols,I & Paris, S. (eds). Universitat Jaume I, 2009.

OP-EDs and general publications:

Truthout. Decolonizing Spain: Colonial Legacies and the Importance of Renaming. September 27, 2015.

Kieran Ford

Kieran FordI began my PhD here in March 2016, focussing my research on an examination of the impact of UK counter-radicalisation programmes, laws and strategies on schools and school students. By law, schools must teach what have been termed ‘Fundamental British Values’ in order to prevent young people from being at risk of so-called radicalisation – being at risk of joining extremist or terrorist organisations. I’m interested in exploring the implications of this normative values-based education for students, when such values are caught in a web of fighting extremism and terrorism.

For many years I have been passionate about education, and have worked in both formal and informal educational contexts. For a number of years I worked with the socialist and co-operative youth education movement, The Woodcraft Folk, engaging with young people and children on issues including peace, violence and war. The commitments to engaging with young people on these issues led us at times to be chastised as ‘indoctrinating’ young people. I think it is this tension between a commitment to a set of values and a commitment to facilitating democratic platforms for young people to become empowered to envision and enact the future they desire for themselves, that has driven my fascination with the UK Government’s current commitment to so-called Fundamental British Values. Is the UK government displaying a mode of indoctrination for a peaceful future? Can education escape indoctrination? Is indoctrination violent? Is education violent?

I grew up in the UK, completing a BSc in International Politics at Aberystwyth University in 2012 before completing an MPhil in Education at the University of Cambridge in 2015.

Stacey Hitchcock

StaceyI started my Master of Arts at the Centre in April 2015; I also completed my postgraduate diploma at the Centre in 2013, after finishing my BA (History and Politics) with the University of Otago in 2012. Following the completion of my Postgraduate Diploma I spent one year in Wellington working as an aid and development intern with The Council for International Development, which was a great opportunity to learn about the world of non-governmental organisations.

My Master's research is centred on looking at the effect that ownership of resource extraction has on violence. During my Postgraduate Diploma I researched a very similar topic, the effect ownership has on conflict onset throughout Africa. I am now taking this research further with my Master’s thesis, by looking at Africa, South America and Latin America, as well as the type of violence experienced in countries with resource extraction.

The Centre is a great learning environment; the people here have enabled me to learn different research methods in an energetic and positive surrounding. Being at the Centre has helped me learn about researching and how I can turn it into a career.

Natasha Jolly

NatashaI began my stint as a PhD Candidate at the NCPACS in April 2016. My research project involves looking into reconciliation in post conflict communities, through the use of restorative processes to deal with the aftermath of sexual and gender based violence. My interest in transitional justice, interpersonal relational repair and gender issues in conflict was born out of a work placement as a pro bono legal assistant at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the Hague. I have trained as a lawyer, having joined the Bar in India in 2012. I also have Masters Degree specialisations in Public International Law and International Peace and Security from University College London and King’s College London specifically. I have had the opportunity to hone my skills in the human rights and humanitarian fields through internships at various domestic and international institutions. Currently, I am continuing my training as a conflict mediator and negotiator under the auspices of the NCPACS.

I consider myself very fortunate to be a part of this inspiring cohort of academics and especially to be supervised by Dr. Heather Devere and Prof. Kevin Clements. I look forward to seeing my academic and professional endeavours come to fruition, while contributing to the growth of NCPACS as a doctoral candidate.

Jolly, N.T. (2016). Review of Umbreit, M. & Armour, M. P. (2011), Restorative Justice Dialogue: An Essential Guide for Research and Practice. New York: Springer Publishing. In Internet Journal of Restorative Justice, November 2016, ISSN (online): 2056-2985.

Georgina Richardson

GeorginaMy background is strong in philosophy although I have also studied a wide range of subjects, including law, sociology, psychology, linguistics, medical ethics, Māori studies, and finance.

I became interested in the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies because of my interests in social justice, intersectional feminism, environmental degradation, anthropocentrism, and inequality in general. I started my Master of Peace and Conflict Studies in February of 2016.

I completed a BA with a double major in English and philosophy at Massey University with my final year undertaken at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I recently finished a GDip in Bioethics and Health Law and Certificate in Māori studies at the University of Otago.

I am also currently involved with New Zealand’s Centre for Science and Citizenship as a volunteer. With the NZCSC, I am involved with the national outreach programme which promotes critical thinking and active participation in national and global citizenship.

I have worked alongside Dr Janine Scott, Director of Financial Planning and Senior Lecturer at Massey University, and developed a research presentation for a US conference. Paper entitled, “Regulation of Financial Advisers in New Zealand”.

The Centre has been challenging and intellectually stimulating. I am looking forward to the rest of my academic journey with such an active and supportive department.

Tonga Karena

TongaHe pūāwai au no runga i te tikanga, he rau rengarenga au no roto i te raukura ko taku raukura rā he manawanui ki te ao! (Te Whiti o Rongomai)

For the most part of my academic career I’ve been involved in teaching Te Reo Maori at various levels from developing honors papers in Te Reo as well as being part of community revitalisation of their own tribal dialect. The creative field of contemporary and traditional Maori music and composition of Maori forms of music has also been a passionate interest. Participating in the role of the maintenance of language, cultural norms, epistimologies and its literary expressions revealed the extent to which bridging the cultural divide is fraught with challenges. Moreover as an active tribal member of Taranaki Iwi, and my own papa kāinga at Parihaka the home of the peace movement established in 1866 revealed a legacy of peace and culture that has yet to be analysed witihin a peace studies framework.

The central foci of my doctoral thesis aims to draw upon the cultural legacies of Parihaka and to posit the ontological perspectives of the past and present within the social and academic context of peace studies. Unravelling these threads will generate the discursive formations that will be part of a normative and philosphical framework that can allow the Parihaka experience to be relived and potentially instutionalised in the current political settings of Aotearoa/NewZealand.

Nick Tobia

Nick TobiaMy professional background is broadly in the field of human rights, and with specific engagements in peace issues related to insurgency, impunity crimes in counter-insurgency, armed conflict, internal displacement, and political settlements in the context of mediated intrastate peace processes. I have worked on these issues in the government, inter-government and non-government sectors, with recent posts in the ASEAN Secretariat and The Asia Foundation.

Prior to the PhD program in Otago, I earned my master's degrees in human rights at the University of Sydney (MA Human Rights and Democratisation) and Mahidol University (MA in Human Rights), through the European Union-USyd MHRD Asia-Pacific Scholarship. I also earned an MSc in Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala Universitet through the Rotary Peace Fellowship. I am a grantee under the Global Peace Index 2016 Ambassadorial Program of the Institute of Economics and Peace and Rotary International.

I am conducting my PhD research at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies through the REI Foundation scholarship. The subject of the research is on multiple non-state armed groups and intrastate peace processes, specifically on the challenges to broad inclusiveness in formal track negotiations.

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Jonathan Sutton


I received my Master’s degree in Peace and Conflict Studies from the NCPACS in 2012. After living and working overseas for a short period I returned in 2015 to begin my Ph.D. research thanks to a Rei Foundation scholarship.

My research is on the outcome of mass nonviolent protests in authoritarian regimes, and focuses on the question of how opposition movements are able to work with political elites to build a broad coalition that is capable of both mobilising supporters and negotiating a transfer of power. Using a mixed-methods approach which combines global statistical analysis with case studies of large nonviolent protests in Cambodia and the Philippines, my thesis links high-level power dynamics in authoritarian governments to the success or failure of civil resistance campaigns.

My other research interests include the effects of repression in authoritarian regimes, nonviolent resistance in support of land and indigenous rights, and the politics of mainland Southeast Asia. My work has appeared in the Journal of Peace Research (

Adan Suazo

Adan SuazoAfter finishing my graduate studies at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University,Sweden, I returned to my hometown of Montreal to explore issues related to inclusion patterns in peace processes. During the last three years, my research has somewhat departed from the inclusion question, and has mainly focused on how environmental variables may be harnessed to increase the likelihood of peace in a conflict zone. This topic has led me to present my work in venues such as the Canadian Peace Research Association and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change's Conference of Youth. I hold membership in the Canadian Peace Research Association, the Otago Energy Research Centre and the Loyola Sustainability Research Centre. For my doctoral degree at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, I am exploring how qualitative and quantitative asymmetries in freshwater access may result in the emergence of structural violence.

Here is a selected list of my publications:

Suazo, Adan E. et al., Avoiding catastrophes: seeking synergies among the public health, environmental protection, and human security sectors, The Lancet Global Health, Vol.4, October 2016, pp. 680-681.

Suazo, Adan E., An Exploration of Water Cooperation and Intra-State Violence, Insight on Conflict, June 2015.

Suazo, Adan E., Demystifying the Wars of the Future: The Past and Current State of Water Conflicts, Insight on Conflict, March 2015.

Suazo, Adan E., Revisiting Resource Redistribution in Conflicts over Water, ReliefWeb, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, October 2014.

Suazo, Adan E., Tools of Change: Long-Term Inclusion in Peace Processes, Fletcher Journal of Human Security, Boston (United States), May 2013, pp. 5-27.

Suazo, Adan E., Political Deadlock in Libya and Syria, Conflict Trends, African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes, Durban (South Africa), April 2013."