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.

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.

Dennis Sanga — Researches well-being of professionals transitioning from the frontline of social work to academic and professional supervision

Dennis Sanga, is a registered social worker and a Lecturer and Quality Lead at Manukau Institute of Technology, School of Social Work and Sport where he teaches on the Bachelors’ Degree Programme and Graduate Certificate in Cross Cultural Supervision. He taught at universities overseas and worked with several NGOs in Auckland before joining the teaching team of MIT. Dennis is interested in the research areas of phenomenological/qualitative research methods and has presented in numerous research conferences with MIT and Unitec.

Naomi Akulu-Haulangi — Researches supporting Pasifika students in the tertiary environment

Naomi Akulu-Haulangi is of Niue and Cook Island descent and is a registered social worker, lecturing in the Bachelor of Social Work programme. She has had many years of practical experience within the social work field ranging from working with families to working alongside the most marginalised members of the community. Naomi values people and the authenticity that research can provide.

Lydia Teatao — Researches Pacific family violence and its effects, mental wellbeing of Pacific immigrants, and identity and culture of young Pacific people

Lydia Teatao is a registered social worker and lecturer at the School of Social Work and Sport teaching on the Bachelors’ Degree Programme and Graduate Certificate in Cross Cultural Supervision. She has had many years’ experience in social work practice in South Auckland and Porirua, Wellington before joining MIT. Lydia is connected and involved heavily with the Kiribati community throughout New Zealand and is secretary for the New Zealand Kiribati National Council. Lydia is interested in the research areas of family violence, mental wellbeing of Pacific immigrants and youth’s identity and culture.