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He Kaupapa Hononga people

Ō mātou tāngata

He Kaupapa Hononga is a network of staff and postgraduate students at the University of Otago who do climate-change related research. The network is run by our Steering Group, and guided by our Advisory Group.

Many of our researchers teach into the interdisciplinary paper ENVI 312: Interdisciplinary Aspects of Climate Change, a paper created by OCCNet, the predecessor to He Kaupapa Hononga.
Visit our Study with us page

We also support the Otago Postgraduate Climate Change Network.

He Kaupapa Hononga Steering Group

Dr Inga Smith, Co-director

Senior Lecturer, Department of Physics

Inga SmithInga Smith specialises in sea ice and energy research. Inga’s climate-related research interests include climate modelling of ice-ocean interactions, and international transport emissions. Inga is the co-chair of the CLIVAR / CliC / SCAR Southern Ocean Region Panel, an international ocean-climate research coordination panel. She is Principal Investigator on sea ice and climate-related projects funded by the Marsden Fund and Deep South National Science Challenge.

Tel +64 3 479 7755
CLIVAR / CliC /SCAR Southern Ocean Region Panel (CLIVAR website)

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Associate Professor Sara Walton, Co-director

Department of Management

Sara WaltonSara Walton teaches and researches in the area of sustainability and business with a focus on eco and social entrepreneurship, eco-innovation, sustainable transitions, environmental conflicts and understanding work in changing futures. Her projects have included Energy Cultures and Science for Technological Innovation National Science Challenge, Lighting Vanuatu, social enterprise in Samoa, and land use / biodiversity surrounding Macraes Gold Mine.

Tel +64 3 479 5108

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Dr Cristina Cleghorn

Senior Research Fellow, Burden of Disease Epidemiology, Equity and Cost-effectiveness programme (BODE)

Cristina CleghornCristina Cleghorn has a strong research interest in sustainable nutrition, and is working on modelling the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of dietary interventions in the New Zealand population. She has supervised a BMedSci student on linking greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) to dietary consumption in New Zealand. We can now estimate the impact of various dietary interventions onto GHG emissions alongside the impact onto health.

Tel +64 4 918 6182

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Associate Professor Nicolas Cullen

School of Geography

Nicolas CullenNicolas Cullen's research interests are in all aspects of meteorology and climatology, with a focus on understanding the response of mountain glaciers and ice sheets to changes in the climate system. He is also interested in the impacts of atmospheric processes on human behaviour, in particular air pollution meteorology, renewable energy and issues related to climate change on local to global scales.

Tel +64 3 479 3069

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Professor Lisa Ellis

Professor of Philosophy and Politics, Director of the Philosophy, Politics and Economics Programmme

Lisa EllisLisa Ellis is a political theorist interested in the collective impacts of discrete decisions in environmental policy. Her projects include the distribution of risks of sea-level rise, the collective ethics of flying, conservation and invasive pest management, and measuring biodiversity value.


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Dr Daniel Kingston

Senior Lecturer, School of Geography

Daniel KingstonDaniel Kingston's research focuses on the intersection of the climate system with the hydrological cycle. His areas of particular expertise include the effects of climate change on river flow and the changing characteristics of drought frequency and magnitude.

Tel +64 3 479 8971

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Toản Nguyễn (Postgraduate Representative)

Te Tumu School of Māori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies

Toan NyugenToản Nguyễn is currently doing his PhD research at Te Tumu School of Māori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies. His research is to understand how local communities and institutions in Vietnam adapting to climate change and climate associated events. Toản’s research is an empirical inquiry and uses multiple qualitative case studies to explore the research issues.


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Hsueh-Yu (Sherry) Tseng (Postgraduate Representative)

Department of Tourism

Sherry TsengSherry’s research interests include low carbon transportation, airline management and aviation safety management. Her current research focuses on making academic aeromobility smarter and more efficient. Sherry has worked in the airline industry and has a wealth of practical experience in the management of airline operations, which allows her to conduct research within the framework of academic theory with industrial applicability in mind.

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He Kaupapa Hononga Advisory Group

Our Advisory Group members are Otago researchers actively involved in research related to climate change. This group is open to any Otago researcher working on climate change related research.

Email for more information.

Associate Professor Sophie Bond

School of Geography

  • Climate justice and grassroots responses to climate change
  • Climate change activism
  • Community engagement in climate change adaptation from both governance and community perspectives
  • Governance shifts for a just transition

Dr Cathy Cole

Centre for Science Communication

  • Ocean climate change and societal engagement with data
  • Connecting climate science with public interest, policy and collective action
  • Personal narratives as tools for engagement on climate issues
  • Risks to cultural heritage from climate change

Associate Professor Ivan Diaz-Rainey

Department of Accountancy and Finance

  • Climate finance
  • Energy finance
  • Carbon markets
  • Energy and environmental policy
  • Induced diffusion of eco-innovations

Associate Professor Crid Fraser

Department of Marine Science

  • How warming may change distributions of plants and animals (mainly marine)
  • How warming could affect the vulnerability of Antarctic ecosystems to invasion
  • DNA insights on the effect of past warming on plant and animal distributions

Dr Sebastian Gehricke

Department of Accountancy and Finance

  • Climate finance and sustainable investing
  • Option traders concerns about climate risks
  • The impact of climate policy and climate risk on US oil and gas
  • Ownership of ASEAN’s potentially stranded assets

Hannah Heynderickx (Postgraduate Representative)

Department of Botany

  • PhD candidate with interests in marine botany and ecology
  • Impact of ocean acidification on phytoplankton and bacteria communities
  • Biofilm communities in Kelp forest

Professor James Higham

Department of Tourism

  • Tourism and climate change
  • Tourism, climate and environmental change
  • Aviation emissions

Associate Professor Douglas Hill

School of Geography

  • The geography of development
  • Capacity building
  • Climate change in the Himalaya and impacts on transboundary water-sharing
  • Low carbon transitions in Australia and New Zealand
  • Climate migration

Dr Linn Hoffmann

Department of Botany

  • Marine phytoplankton eco-physiology
  • Responses of phytoplankton communities to stressors
  • Assessment of stressors such as: light, macronutrient concentration, microplastics, temperature, ocean acidification, and trace metal bioavailability

Dr Greg Leonard

School of Surveying

  • How Antarctic sea ice is influenced by climate change, and the role it will play in a changing climate
  • Use of geospatial engineering infrastructure models to examine the effects on urban drainage infrastructure due to climate change
  • How intense rainfall events and sea level rise will affect existing drainage systems

Associate Professor Janice Lord

Department of Botany

  • Alpine plant and lichen responses to manipulation in snow cover
  • Alpine plant resilience to loss of snow
  • Reforestation for carbon sequestration (1 billion trees project)

Associate Professor Alexandra MacMillan

Department of Preventive and Social Medicine

  • Integrates health, climate change and climate justice
  • Identifies policies to address climate change with health, equity environmental sustainability co-benefits
  • Policy areas including transport, urban planning, housing and food systems, e.g leads Te Ara Mua Future Streets
  • Co-convenes OraTaiao: NZ Climate and Health Council

Jekope Maiono

  • PhD candidate in Indigenous Development
  • Investigating: Fifty years of independence - indigenous perceptions on sustainable land development in Fiji

Dr Fabien Montiel

Department of Mathematics and Statistics

  • Applied mathematics in modelling wave propagation phenomena
  • Understanding sea ice vulnerability to ocean waves under the projected intensification of wind and wave activity at high latitudes

Dr Christain Ohneiser

Department of Geology

  • Paleomagnetic and geochemical techniques on sedimentary records to reconstruct past environmental changes
  • Understanding natural climate and ocean variability

Dr Christina Riesselman

Department of Geology

  • Paleoceanography and paleoclimatology of marine and coastal sediments reconstructing responses to past intervals of warmer-than-present climate
  • Currently co-Principal Investiagtor on the MBIE SSIF Antarctic Science Platform project Antarctic ocean mechanics: past, present and future

Dr Peter Russell

Department of Physics

  • Marsden Fund - Supercooling measurements under ice shelves
  • Connecting Antarctic research with Māori communities
  • How Antarctic research is relevant to multigenerational Iwi planning
  • Haumatakataka - Research on marine primary productivity in the wake of tropical cyclones

Alexia Saint-Macary (Postgraduate Representative)

Department of Marine Science/NIWA

  • PhD candidate based at NIWA, Wellington
  • Biogeochemical oceanography
  • Dynamics of DMS (dimethyl sulfide) and DMSP (dimethylsulfoniopropionate) in the surface water column

Dr Annika Seppälä

Department of Physics

  • Chemical-dynamical coupling in the atmosphere and how this influences regional climate variability, particularly via changes in solar forcing
  • Satellite observations and modelling to investigate feedback mechanisms and connections between various parts of the atmosphere-climate system

Dr Caroline Shaw

Department of Public Health

  • Health co-benefits and equity impacts of climate change mitigation policy

Associate Professor Janet Stephenson

Centre for Sustainability

  • Social and interdisciplinary research
  • Transition to low carbon economy systems
  • Community and council adaptation to climate change (especially sea-level rise, flooding, storms)
  • Behaviour change to low-carbon living

Ben Tombs

  • PhD candidate co-supervised between Faculty of Law, Centre for Sustainability, and Philosophy
  • Challenges and implications of ‘property purgatory’ resulting from climate change

Associate Professor Sarah Wakes

Department of Mathematics and Statistics

  • Using Computational Fluid Dynamics software to predict flows over sand dunes and the interaction of technology and industrial design
  • Air and wind interaction with complex geometries as well as sedimentation effects

Professor Ceri Warnock

Faculty of Law

  • Legal regulatory frameworks
  • Resource management
  • Land use rights based constitutional and common law
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Otago Climate Change Postgraduate Network

He Kaupapa Hononga supports the growing Otago Climate Change Postgraduate Network (OCCPN). If you are a postgraduate student studying in a climate change-related field, feel free to join the group’s mailing list:
Join OCPPN's mailing list

Current students come from disciplines as diverse as Botany, Tourism, Indigenous Studies, Education, Law, Public Health and Chemistry.

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