Social work

Social work research assesses client needs and assesses benefits of social work practices. They continuously endeavour to develop cultural competencies and to stay informed on current best practices. Academics are involved in research related to:

  • Mental health supports for tertiary students;
  • Practices of cross-cultural social work education in New Zealand;
  • Positive changes within low socio-economic regions; and
  • Evaluation of Thriving Ōtara, a social services programme managed by Oranga Tamaraki and Anglican Trust for Women & Children.

The Social work team welcomes collaboration so please don't hesitate to contact their Academic Lead (Research).


Researchers and their research interests:

Dr Melanie (Mel) Wong — Researches giftedness, tertiary students' mental and emotional needs, social constructionism

Dr Wong is a Senior Lecturer in social work. She is also a counsellor and a trained interactive drawing therapist. Melanie completed her PhD on exploring giftedness using social constructionism. She is also interested in the research areas of qualitative research methods. She has published many journal articles and presented in local and international conferences.

Gisa Dr Moses Ma’alo Faleolo — Researches youth justice, social work, community development, gangs, Sāmoan studies, criminology, life history methodology and Sāmoan research methods

Gisa Dr Moses Ma’alo Faleolo is a Senior Lecturer and an Academic Leader (Quality) at the School of Social Work and Sports, and a registered social worker. His PhD focussed on the life histories of gang-involved young Sāmoan men and he is currently working on a research project, “Towards a Pacific criminological theory: Life histories of Sāmoan people’s involvement in gangs in Oceania” which features a gendered perspective and covers New Zealand, Hawaii and Sāmoa. Dr Faleolo has numerous international publications, has presented at conferences in Denmark, Vietnam, and Taiwan, and has had his research featured on television programmes such as “Tagata Pasifika’ and “TVNZ Breakfast” and on radio for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Eva Dick — Researches art therapy for self-reflection

Eva is a Lecturer on the Bachelor of Social Work (Te Torino) programme at the School of Social Work and Sport. Her research focuses on widening the scope of supervision using art therapy to gain insights and self-reflection to identify aspects of self (personal and professional) that can often lie beneath the narrative.

Niukini Hendrikse — Researches Samoan social work practice

Niukini is a Lecturer at the School of Social Work and Sport.  She is a New Zealand-born Samoan social work practitioner and the practicum coordinator for the Bachelor of Social work (Te Torino) and has many years of experience in social work practice in South Auckland.  Niukini’s research lies in the development of Samoan social work practitioners as well as developing and encouraging the Pacific practitioners into the academic field of social work.

Lois Naera — Researches Māori recidivism and the impact this has on whanau and children trauma and intergenerational mental health; suicide and healing from a Māori and Western perspective

Ko Lois Naera taku ingoa. No Muriwhenua ahau. Lois is a Lecturer at the School of Social Work and Sport and has almost 40 years' experience as a Māori social work practitioner in both New Zealand and Australia. She is a first-generation urban-born Māori with close ties to her haukainga kaumatua/kuia and whanau katoa.

Fuatino Petelo — Researches Samoan social work practice

Fuatino is a Lecturer for the Bachelor of Social Work (Te Torino). She was born and bred in Samoa, is a social work practitioner, and has had many years’ experience practising social work in South Auckland.