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Postgraduate Research

Our postgraduate students have travelled from all over the world to learn from our researchers and to access facilities and knowledge that can only be found at Otago.

Exceptional doctoral theses in the Division of Humanities

We like to celebrate excellence at every level, and we take great pleasure in announcing that the following Doctoral candidates have presented theses of exceptional quality.

A thesis is of exceptional quality when all three examiners of a candidate's thesis agree that the thesis is of an exceptional standard in every respect – research content, originality, quality of expression and accuracy of presentation – and is amongst the top 10% of theses examined.

2020 Exceptional Theses

Cameron Daniel Coombe, School of Arts – Theology: The role of scripture in the theology of Jürgen Moltmann

(Primary Supervisor: Associate Professor Christopher Holmes)

For more information on Cameron’s work, please contact the Theology Programme by email at

Anaru Duncan Eketone, School of Social Sciences – Social and Community Work: The principles of Māori directed practice and development

(Primary Supervisor: Associate Professor Pat Shannon)

For more information on Anaru’s work, please contact Social and Community Work by email at

Paul John Kirkham, School of Social Sciences – Media, Film and Communication: Mimesis and power

(Primary Supervisor: Dr Brett Nicholls)

For more information on Paul’s work, please contact the Media, Film and Communication Programme by email at

Thomas White, School of Social Sciences, Religion: Contronymic Secularism: The Constitutional Politics of Religion in Fiji

(Primary Supervisor: Associate Professor Ben Schonthal)

For more information on Thomas’ work, please contact the Religion Programme by email at

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2019 Exceptional Theses

Charles Gibson, Philosophy: A defence of biodiversity as the goal of conservation biology

(Primary Supervisor: Professor James Maclaurin)

For more information on Charles’ work, please contact the Philosophy Programme by email at

2018 Exceptional Theses

Nicholas Brennan, Department of Theology and Religion: The Son as God: the theological salience of divine Christology in the Epistle to the Hebrews

(Primary Supervisor: Professor Paul Trebilco)

For more information on Nicholas’ work, please contact the Theology and Religion Department by email at

Karly Burch, Department of Sociology, Gender and Social Work: Eating a nuclear disaster: A vital institutional ethnography of the coordination of everyday eating in the aftermath of Tokyo Electric Power Company's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster

(Primary Supervisor: Professor Hugh Campbell)

For more information on Karly’s work, please contact the Sociology, Gender and Social Work Department by email at

Leila Crawford, English and Linguistics: Cultivating space and place: Seamus Heaney's landscape poetics

(Primary Supervisor: Professor Peter Kuch)

For more information about Leila's work, please email

Roberta Francis, National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies: Nothing about us without us: The pursuit of inclusive and accessible positive peace

(Primary Supervisor: Professor Richard Jackson)

For more information on Roberta's work, please contact the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies by email at

Michael Ligaliga, National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies: Faa Samoa: Peacebuilder or peacebreaker? Understanding Samoa's domestic violence problem: A peace and conflict perspective

(Primary Supervisor: Dr Heather Devere)

For more information on Michael’s work, please contact the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies by email at

Jonathan Ryan, Department of Theology and Religion: Love does not seek its own: Augustine, economic division, and the formation of a common life

(Primary Supervisor: Associate Professor Christopher Holmes)

For more information on Jonathan’s work, please contact Theology by email at

Hirini Tane, Te Tumu – Māori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies: Whakapapakainga: a template for the cross-generational development of marae-communities

(Primary Supervisors: Professor Paul Tapsell and Professor Merata Kawharu)

For more information on Hirini's work, please email

Keziah Wallis, Anthropology and Archaeology: The bonds of water: Strings of connectedness in Bamar Buddhist life

(Primary Supervisor: Associate Professor Ben Schonthal, and Dr Cyril Schafer)

For more information on Keziah's work, please email

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