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Dr Ruth Toumu’a, the Associate Dean (Pacific) Wellington and Lecturer in Higher Education Development in HEDC at the University of Otago sadly passed away Wednesday 15 May, 2024, at home.

"I offer my condolences and heart-felt sympathies to Dr Ruth Toumu’a’s family, including her husband Tuikolongahau and their sons Bryan and Joshua, Ruth’s mother, and wider family members, and all of her colleagues and students here at the University.

"A fuller acknowledgment of Dr Ruth Toumu’a, her contribution to the lives of others and incredible life journey, will follow."

Professor William Levack
Dean and Head of Wellington Campus


BA (Double major: Education & Linguistics)
MA (Applied Linguistics) with Distinction
PhD (Applied Linguistics)

About Ruth

Photo of Ruth Toumu'a for profileKia Ora and Pacific Greetings to you. I provide specialist academic skills and literacies development advice, coaching, and support for students and staff of the University of Otago Wellington Medical School. This is primarily through one-to-one consultations, workshops, resources, teaching into courses, and being a useful 'critical friend' for those on the postgraduate research journey. I also support learning and teaching within the wider University, with a focus on the development of academic literacies and information literacies for higher education, particularly at points of transition. I am TESOL trained and have over 15 years' experience in tertiary education contexts in academic skills development, research, and executive roles in New Zealand and the Pacific. Based at the Wellington Campus, I work to support successful independent learners at all levels from first year through to PhD, and particularly enjoy supporting the retention and success of students from underrepresented backgrounds and equity groups at the University as well as those for whom English is an additional language.

Research interests

My professional and research interests in higher education relate to: academic literacy and learning skills development; academic reading and academic texts in higher education; the retention and success of students from Pacific heritages and other underrepresented groups. I am also interested in culturally responsive teaching, and indigeneity and research, looking into the role and importance of Indigenous worldviews, value systems, and methodologies in research with/by/for Oceania. My background experience and wider interests include: conceptualisations of 'literacy' and 'success' amongst adult Pacific populations in Aotearoa New Zealand; English for academic purposes; classroom literacy teaching resources and storybooks development in the Pacific; and error analysis in ESL learner writing.


It is an honour to accompany postgraduate students on their learning journeys. I am currently supervising and am available to supervise prospective candidates with similar content or methodological interests.


Toumu'a, R. (2022). If exam scripts could talk: Insights for literacy teaching and assessment in Oceania. Pacific Dynamics, 6(2), 165-185. doi: 10.26021/10637 Journal - Research Article

Toumu'a, R., & Laban, L. W. (2014). Cultivating a whole of university response to Pasifika: Research in action for widened participation, retention and completion at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. International Studies in Widening Participation, 1(2), 46-59. Retrieved from Journal - Research Article

Toumu'a, M. R. (2012). Academic reading and Pacific students: Profiling texts, tasks & readers in the first year of university in New Zealand (PhD). Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand. 421p. Retrieved from Awarded Doctoral Degree

Davidson-Toumu'a, R., & Dunbar, K. (2009). Understanding the experiences of Pacific students and facilitating socio-cultural adjustment into higher education in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Journal of the Australian & New Zealand Student Services Association, 33, 69-88. Journal - Research Article

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