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Department of Population Health
University of Otago, Christchurch
PO Box 4345
Christchurch 8140

Background and research interests

Helen is a social scientist who takes a theoretically informed approach to the connections between mobilities and wellbeing. As such, she is interested in exploring always-emergent constellations of dynamic, contingent, and nuanced social processes. Her research to date has focused primarily on transport mobilities. Helen has explored the influence of social meanings on transport practices, including on driving, motorcycling, walking, cycling, and bus use. She has also led and participated in projects concerning the potential wellbeing implications of new and emerging transport technologies, including electric vehicles, e-scooters, and automated (driverless) cars. Her current research explores whether access to shared transport can increase accessibility and wellbeing for residents of social housing and retirement provision.

Helen's work is primarily qualitative and she is interested in exploring the effective use of novel and innovative methods. Helen also has ongoing interests in research ethics and communications. As such, she has been working on using illustration in research communications, including in informed consent processes.

Helen has worked in a range of environments including government, NGO, and private sectors. She has a BA(Hons) in Economics and French from the University of Leeds (UK), an MRes in Development Studies from the University of East Anglia (UK), and PhD in Human Geography from the University of Canterbury (NZ). She has also worked as a researcher at Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research and as a lecturer at the University of Canterbury and at Lincoln University.


Helen currently teaches:

PUBH 713 Society, Health and Health Promotion
PUBH 743 Health Promotion Programme Planning and Evaluation

She is interested in supervising PhD and Master's candidates in health and wellbeing research related to:

  • Transport
  • Mobilities scholarship (including but not restricted to transport)
  • Social and cultural theory
  • Social practice approaches
  • Innovative use of qualitative methods

Professional activities and memberships

  • Reference Group Member: Transport Knowledge Hub: Technology and Innovation
  • Seminar Series Co-coordinator: Aotearoa New Zealand Mobilities Network
  • Steering Group Member: Kāinga Ora research project: Easy Access and Sustainable Transport (EAST)
  • Member of New Zealand Geographical Society
  • Member of University of Otago Transport Research Network


Russell, E., McKerchar, C., Berghan, J., Curl, A., & Fitt, H. (2024). Considering the importance of transport to the wellbeing of Māori social housing residents. Journal of Transport & Health, 36, 101809. doi: 10.1016/j.jth.2024.101809 Journal - Research Article

Curl, A., Coppens, A., Dares, C., Williman, J., Fitt, H., & Kingham, S. (2024). Accessibility and affordability impacts of half price public transport fares in Aotearoa New Zealand. Findings, (February). doi: 10.32866/001c.92735 Journal - Research Article

Fountain, J., Rosin, C., & Fitt, H. (2023). Resilience and regeneration in a marine tourism destination: The case of Akaroa. Proceedings of the 33rd Council for Australasian Tourism and Hospitality Education (CAUTHE) Annual Conference: West, East, South, North: Redirecting Research in Tourism, Hospitality and Events. (pp. 343-344). Fremantle, Australia: CAUTHE. [Abstract] Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

Shaw, C., Fitt, H., Chapman, R., Wild, K., Woodward, A., Curl, A., & MacMillan, A. (2023). Where do the parties stand? A low carbon, healthy transport system. The Briefing, (29 August). Retrieved from Journal - Research Other

Fitt, H., & Crossin, R. (2023, May). Shared mobility and on demand delivery. Verbal presentation at the Connect with Transport Research Symposium, Christchurch, New Zealand. Conference Contribution - Verbal presentation and other Conference outputs

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