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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 a member of the Scientific Steering Group for CLIVAR (Climate and Ocean: Variability, Predictability and Change), which is the core project of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) that aims to understand the dynamics, the interaction, and the predictability of the climate system with emphasis on ocean-atmosphere interactions. She is Principal Investigator on sea ice and climate-related projects funded by the Marsden Fund, Deep South National Science Challenge, and the Antarctic Science Platform.

Tel +64 3 479 7755

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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Sherry H.Y. Tseng, Assistant Research FellowSherry H.Y. Tseng image

Department of Physics

Sherry is a PhD researcher, researching academic aeromobility and providing insights into how universities and other knowledge sectors can respond to the urgent need to change flying practices. Her work especially focuses on global equity issues regarding air travel reduction of remote institutions. Sherry dedicates years of airline management experience to conducting research with academic theory and industrial applicability in mind. Currently, Sherry provides research assistance with building and further developing He Kaupapa Hononga's research network.


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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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Linn Hoffmann imageAssociate Professor Linn Hoffmann

Botany Department

Linn Hoffmann is a biological oceanographer with a focus on marine phytoplankton eco-physiology. Her work mainly focusses on the response of phytoplankton communities to multiple environmental and climate change stressors such as light, macronutrient concentration, microplastics, temperature, ocean acidification, and trace metal bioavailability. She also works on research projects looking at phytoplankton – bacteria interactions, the impact of microplastics on marine phytoplankton and macroalgae.

Tel +64 3 479 7583

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Nathan Kenny imageDr Nathan Kenny

Department of Biochemistry

Nathan Kenny is a lecturer in the Biochemistry Department and a Rutherford Discovery Fellow. His work focusses on the molecular evolution of invertebrates to changing conditions, and particularly on the resilience of kuku or kūtai (green lipped mussels) to warming seas and rising levels of ocean acidification.

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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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Janice Lord imageAssociate Professor Janice Lord

Botany Department

Janice Lord is a botanist with research interests in climate change impacts on alpine vegetation, native reforestation, wetland restoration, carbon capture by plants and soils, and nature-based solutions for the agricultural sector. She leads an MPI/Te Uru Rakau 1 Billion Trees programme and collaborates on several climate change related multi-disciplinary projects.

Tel +64 3 479 5131

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Ray O’Brien imageRay O’Brien

Head of Sustainability | Tumuaki o Toitū te Taiao

Ray O’Brien is a sustainability professional with focus on the integration of sustainable practice into programmes and practice across many disciplines and operational areas. His research interests are generally practice based and centre around the potential for education to have a transformational impact. His current research is exploring how fields such as complexity theory, futures studies and decolonised design integrate to place learning designers as leaders in maximising that transformational impact.

Mob +64 21 766 937

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Rita Przybilski imageDr Rita Przybilski

Research and Enterprise Office

Rita Przybilski works as a Business Development Manager for the Research and Enterprise Office at the University of Otago. Rita has completed a PhD in Biochemistry and Genetics working on structure function relationships in catalytic RNA. She has worked for the University of Otago for 12 years as Postdoctoral Fellow, Teaching Fellow and in administrative roles. Since 2019 Rita is supporting researchers with projects in the areas of environment and energy.

Tel +64 21 222 7346

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Ifeoma Ukonze imageIfeoma Ukonze, Postgraduate Representative

School of Surveying

Ifeoma Ukonze is currently doing her PhD research at Faculty of Surveying. Her research is to assess the integration of Green Infrastructure as an adaptive tool for Climate Change in Sustainable Land transport Development using two case studies. Ify's research is an empirical inquiry and uses a mixed methods approach to explore the research issues.


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Indira Venkatraman 2022 imageIndira Venkatraman, Postgraduate Representative

Accountancy and Finance

Indie’s current research focuses on adopting performance indicators for climate action plans, to better align them to UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. This work uses pragmatic constructivist approach in management accounting and index modelling to build composite indicators for the study of climate outcomes and carbon consequences. Her case site is at Waiheke Island, where she’s a Sustainability and Carbon Neutral intern for local agencies. Indie has extensive work experience in research, data analytics and sustainability both in industry and academia. This compliments her research interest of conducting active research in climate change, to enable better policies for climate futures and carbon management.


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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

Department of Science Communication, Centre for Alternative Technology (UK)

  • 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

Jim Cotter

School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences

  • Heat stress tolerance and adaptation
  • Cross adaptation between climate stressors
  • Value of naturalistic physical activity for health

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

  • Greenwashing in Financial Markets Carbon Market Policy
  • Impacts and Mechanisms Impact Investing
  • 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

Associate Professor 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 Investigator on the MBIE SSIF Antarctic Science Platform project Antarctic ocean mechanics: past, present and future

Dr Peter Russell

Department of Marine Science

  • Former Research Fellow on the Marsden Fund supported project- Supercooling measurements under ice shelves (PI Inga Smith)
  • 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

Sherry Tseng

Department of Tourism

  • PhD candidate
  • Academic air travel behaviour
  • Air travel carbon emissions reduction policies
  • Airline business and management

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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