Mihi Nemani

Principal Lecturer

Staff profile

Mihi Nemani


Principal Lecturer

Teaching areas

Exercise prescription, exercise programming, strength and conditioning, sport sociology.


  • Bachelor of Science
  • Masters in Sport and Leisure (First class Honours)
  • PhD Candidate.

Contact details

Email:Click here to email Mihi

Manukau Institute of Technology
MIT Ōtara
Dilworth Building
NA Block
Gate 12
Ōtara Road
Ōtara Auckland 2241


Mihi is of Samoan-Māori descent and has over 20 years experience lecturing and teaching sport, fitness and recreation programmes from certificate to degree level in the MIT School of Sport. At present she has the Academic Lead Quality responsibility that involves moderation, academic reporting and other academic quality processes. She is also studying her PhD which focuses on young Māori and Pasifika women and their engagement with physical activity. Within MIT she has had roles on the Academic Board, in the Academic Centre, Fono Tangata Pasifika Network and the Ethics Committee. With her qualifications and vast experiences in the Sport, Fitness and Recreation industry, Mihi is able to provide first-hand experience and examples for students in her classes.

One of her favourite quotes to encourage students to strive for excellence is by Bruce Lee which states:

“If you always put a limit on everything you do, physical or anything else it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”

Mihi exemplifies this quote through her examples of striving for excellence in academia as well as in sport.

Professional sporting involvement in the community

Mihi has competed internationally and nationally in bodyboarding and weightlifting. Below are some of her achievements:

  • 3 x World Amateur Champion in Bodyboarding (Surfing)
  • 1 x World Masters Weightlifting Champion - 75kg Weight Class
  • 4 x Māori World Champion Award Recipient
  • 2 x Oceania Masters Weightlifting Champion - 75kg Weight Class
  • 7 x New Zealand National Bodyboarding Champion (Women’s Open Division)
  • 4 x New Zealand Surf Team Member at World Surf Games (Surfing Olympics)
  • Masters Athlete of the Year – Inaugural Ōtara Sports Awards.

She was also at the 2014 Commonwealth Games as the Assistant Weightlifting Coach and Manager for Niue.

Why I love MIT

MIT is truly where the makers are made and I am one of them as I have been able to make a career in education as a lecturer over the past two decades. As a lecturer in sport I have been able to hone my craft of teaching while staying current academically as well as being involved in the sport, fitness and recreation industry as an athlete, coach, gym owner and trainer. Through the support of the School of Sport team at MIT I have been able to achieve and set new goals inside and outside of the classroom.


  • Nemani, M. J. (2013). Getting Deep: Experiences of New Zealand Bodyboarders (Thesis, Master of Sport and Leisure Studies (MSpLS)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/8470.
  • Nemani, M. (2015). Being a Brown Bodyboarder. In M. Brown, & B. Humberstone (Eds.), Seascapes: Shaped By The Sea (pp. 83-100). UK: Ashgate Publishing.
  • Nemani, M. and Thorpe, H. (2016). The Experiences of ‘Brown’ Female Bodyboarders: Negotiating Multiple Axes of Marginality. In Contextualizing Women in Action Sport Cultures. In Women in Action Sport Cultures (pp. 213-233). Palgrave Macmillan UK.
  • Olive, R., Thorpe, H., Roy, G., Nemani, M., Wheaton, B., & Humberstone, B. (2016). Surfing together: Exploring the potential of a collaborative ethnographic moment. In Women in Action Sport Cultures (pp. 45–68). Springer.

Scholarly activities

  • PhD Candidate at the University of Waikato. Research title is: ‘Weaving Fitness and Cultural Practises: The role of Physical Activity in the lives of Young Māori and Pasifika wahine.’
  • A member of a research team working on a project titled, ‘Reconceptualizing Women’s Wellbeing in the Pandemic: More-than-Human Connection and Communities of Belonging in Aotearoa.’
  • A member of a research team working on a project titled,’Reconceptualizing Wellbeing: Women, Sport and Communities of Belonging.’ The Principal Researcher for this project is Professor Holly Thorpe who is the recipient of the James Cook Fellowship.

Research interests

As an Indigenous Feminist researcher, I am interested in research that investigates Māori and Pasifika women’s experiences in sport, fitness and physical activity. My research aims to amplify the voices and experiences of these women using Indigenous methodologies to provide relevant and cultural knowledge that will inform future policy. By aiming to create space for Māori and Pasifika women’s voices I will hopefully enable policy and practice that better supports their unique needs.

Awards and grants

  • Sport New Zealand PhD Scholarship (First recipient of three)
  • University of Waikato Doctoral Scholarship.

Memberships and affiliations

  • Member of the Intelligence Team at Sport New Zealand as a PhD Candidate.