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Aotearoa in Asia-Pacific research at Otago

Aotearoa kei Āhia / Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa

Our Aotearoa in Asia-Pacific cluster highlights research groups working in and beyond New Zealand to explore, engage and co-design research approaches addressing matters affecting communities in our region.

Visit the listings of our research groups or our featured projects:

Asia-Pacific Biocultural Health: Past and present

A University of Otago Research Theme

Investigating our human past for our health today

Bronze Age dig in Thailand We are investigating fundamental questions of the human past that have pressing implications for human health today in Aotearoa, the Pacific and Southeast Asia. The University of Otago is the only institution internationally to house leaders in health research in these regions.

Through the melding of prehistoric health and current biomedical research (evolutionary medicine) our understanding of health issues, including non-communicable and infectious disease, social disparity and dietary and cultural change, can be assessed.

Drawing on multi-disciplinary approaches we will build new, and strengthen existing, research relationships. This will increase our research capacity and allow us to showcase our international leadership.


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Centre for Research on Colonial Culture

A University of Otago Research Centre

Rethinking colonialism and its legacies

Our Centre has a particularly productive network of researchers of international standing seeking to produce new historical understandings of colonialism, the development of colonial cultures, and the role of empires in shaping the modern world, with particular relevance to New Zealand and the Pacific region.


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Centre for Global Migrations

A University of Otago Research Theme

Investigating and responding to the impacts of migrations

The Centre for Global Migrations co-ordinates research, teaching, and activities relating to historical and contemporary global migration.

Our aims are to:

  • Advance and communicate knowledge and understanding of the causes, consequences, and legacies of migration
  • Facilitate national and international interdisciplinary research collaborations to develop new methodologies and frameworks for migration and inform public debate and policy development
  • Develop a vibrant research community encompassing the academy, policy makers, heritage professionals, and the general public


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Otago Global Health Institute (OGHI) | Te Pūtahi Hauora-ā-Ao ki Ōtākau

A University of Otago Research Centre

Effective health solutions for low- and middle-income countries

Gambian village sceneWe aim to improve global health and save lives, by identifying and evaluating solutions to important health problems in low-resource settings.

We work to address the world's most pressing health problems through research collaborations with low- and middle-income countries, and with disadvantaged groups in New Zealand.

We draw upon New Zealand's unique connections with Asia and the Pacific. Our extensive international partnerships and cross-disciplinary collaborations enable us to carry out innovative and rigorous research to advance global health.


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Pacific Health Research at Otago

A University of Otago Research Strength

Nurturing Pacific health research

Pacific hair garlandTalofa lava, kia orana, malo e lelei, fakaalofa lahi atu, bula vinaka, malo ni, halo ola keta, mauri, fakatalofa atu, and warm Pacific greetings!

We're celebrating our Pacific health research in the Division of Health Sciences.

Learn about what's going on in Pacific health research, how we can support researchers, and where to start if you're excited about research.


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Southern Pacific Archaeological Research

Exploring our past to guide our future

Rustic tripod for sifting soil samplesWe're using archaeology's emerging technologies to provide extraordinary insight into human interactions with fauna and environments in New Zealand and the Pacific. Our research is producing answers to questions that traditional methods have not solved.

We are a research unit and consultancy in the Archaeology Programme, School of Social Sciences, at the University of Otago. SPAR is one of the leading archaeological and heritage consultancies in New Zealand, and promotes best practice in archaeological, historic and cultural heritage management.


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Aotearoa in Asia–Pacific featured projects | Rangahau mō Aotearoa ki Āhia, ki Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa

Bioethics of a pandemic

Jing Bao Nie thumbnailThe COVID-19 pandemic highlights important bioethical issues and shows just how destructive biological weapons could be.

“The international community needs a much stronger ban on biological weapons, much stronger protection against potential bioterrorism, and much stronger and transparent safety measures around scientific laboratories studying the most dangerous pathogens.”

Diabetes disparity

Dr Isaiah Immanuel thumbnailDr Isaiah Immanuel, a medical graduate and father-of-five is shining a light on the inequities of care that Pasifika youth in Aotearoa New Zealand are struggling to overcome in the management of their type 1 diabetes.

Focusing on LGBTIQ+ homelessness

Dr Brodie Fraser imageAs a young campaigner on social justice and LGBTIQ+ rights, Dr Brodie Fraser has found working as a researcher in the Department of Public Health a perfect mix of their academic and activist interests. A Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Public Health at the University of Otago, Wellington, Fraser works in the He Kāinga Oranga Housing and Health Research Programme.

Kurī overlooked for ecological impact on early New Zealand

Karen Greig and Nic Rawlence with kurī skeletonThe arrival of humans, and the kiore (Pacific rat) they brought with them, has been well documented as bringing about major changes to Aotearoa New Zealand’s environment, but what about their pets? University of Otago researchers believe kurī (Polynesian dogs) have been overlooked, and even erroneously exonerated by some scientists, for their ecological impact.

Leprosy research informs policy

Chambers thumbnailLeprosy continues to be a significant problem in Pacific nations such as Kiribati. Professor Steve Chambers and his University of Otago, Christchurch colleagues are helping to find the most effective public health interventions.

Samoan connections

Sara Esmay Sarah thumbnailFrom a new DBA programme to supporting a social enterprise initiative and supplying much-needed university textbooks, the efforts of several Otago Business School staff are set to make a difference in Samoa.

Time for action

Anna High standing in an alley wearing a brightly coloured dressDr Anna High is taking a “law-in-action” approach to her areas of interest. She is a co-director of the Centre for Law and Society at the University of Otago as well as a lecturer in the areas of Evidence Law, Jurisprudence and Chinese Law.

Young at heart

Patrick Vakaoti thumbnailThe desire to explore the issues facing young people in the Pacific is at the heart of one Otago researcher's work in Fiji.

“In Fiji, much of life is influenced by binaries ‒ there's a right and wrong way to live, speak and behave,” he says. “My initial interest in young people was sparked by the existence of those in the margins ‒ basically trying to understand why was it that some can 'make it' whereas others lead an alternative life, ostracised and on the streets.”

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Research in our four academic divisions | Te rangahau ki ō mātou whare mātauranga e whā

View more research activity in our academic divisions: